Sunday afternoon and evening were write-offs, as was much of Monday after the walk from London to Brighton. There is a curious feeling after achievement, the initial euphoria then plunging into introspection and sometimes even a period of being downright miserable – coming down from a high. I can see why many sporting professionals do suffer from depression after retirement from playing.
Anyway, Monday was hard in that just about any movement was hurting and my sleep pattern had no pattern at all. It was predominantly blisters and the soles of my feet being very sore but I did have the great memories of the previous day to buoy me. I had some help on the Tuesday with my calves from my son and budding physiotherapist, which helped immensely. It hurt while they were being worked on but I felt the good that it did me. Stairs suddenly became much more surmountable and meant that on Wednesday I could venture out to the local cricket club without so much as a limp, and score a good but rain-affected match without too much discomfort. Thursday saw me take the lovely Pammy out to the New Forest and for a lovely brief walk and a lovely cream tea.
So how am I now? Not too much soreness but I have let the blisters heal themselves and my feet are no longer any issue. There is still about 10 per cent of the stiffness remaining in my legs but I am already thinking about the next challenge. Itchy feet already. I have restricted myself to one challenge a year so far and that feels right but I really have the bug. I very much doubt if work could spare me (cos I’m just so important) for a week off in September to recover from doing the Thames Path, and I thought too about the South Coast Challenge in late August, but that does clash with the last day of the cricket season and I really want to be there for that.
There aren’t that many ultra challenges around in UK but London to Cambridge and the Grand Union Canal Challenge sound good too. All of these are 100 km or thereabouts, similar to London2Brighton. The Grand Union was replaced in 2016 by the South Coast Challenge but I gather it might be back next year. Others further afield include the Saharan Challenge with two marathon length walks in two days in Morocco and Kilimanjaro, which is fairly well established now, but they involve my nemesis of camping. I am likely to organise my own multi-day walk somewhere for either 2017 or 2018, but it won’t be on the 10 week scale of Lands End – John O’Groats, more likely two or three weeks, and I have mused over Offa’s Dyke (the length of Wales, 178 miles) for some time now. It has to be something that is difficult and is a challenge.
The problem with all this stuff is that it is so bloomin’ expensive. Even for London to Brighton, entry fee for self-funding was (from memory) £149, a £33 train journey, £93 B&B (and yes that was about the cheapest within a couple of miles of the start), and another similar amount for accommodation in Brighton so Pam could meet me, scoop me up and drive me home. On top of that, there is the general gear needed, boots etc. that need updating and upkeep, and it is not a cheap pastime. A two week walk would probably cost 14 * £40 (minimum) average accommodation plus travel plus all the food apart from breakfast, which is the second B in B&B. Getting on for a thousand quid before you’ve even blinked. Don’t ask what Lands End to John O’Groats cost me, but you can imagine. But it is very much worth it for that feeling when you complete it. If you’re ever thinking of doing any stuff like this, beware that it hurts but the rewards are enormous.
I doubt if you will hear much from me on this blog for a week or two or three while I rest my feet and legs and recharge my batteries. But, with recovery almost there now, my enthusiasm is undimmed and, before you know it, I’ll be back doing something or other as part of this mid-life crisis…….