A Gentle Ben day

Just to say firstly today that nothing, yes nothing, that I ever do could get anywhere near this: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/charity-fundraiser-runs-401-marathons-8987146. 401 marathons in 401 days, and I even heard people say that it wasn’t such a great thing because he missed some days and then just caught up by running two marathons on another day. Wow – Take a bow, no, take anything you want, Ben Smith. If you could leave Pammy with me that would be appreciated.

Without anything of great interest to listen to, I ventured out for today’s walk without a radio, tablet or phone. The only thing I did take was my bottle of flavoured water. So just me and a bottle. At least I would fit in around Gosport or Rowner, the general area where I was intending to go. It has been a difficult fortnight after coming back to work from leave and I really wasn’t in the mood for walking, more like curling up on the sofa and watching the three back to back to back episodes of Columbo on 5USA. Give me Columbo or Hitchcock on TV and I will always be happy. And yes, I do have the complete box set of Columbo episodes and all of Hitchcock’s films on DVD. And more yes, I did know that Marnie was on BBC2 quite late last night.

The days that I don’t want to go walking are usually those when I need to. I am not building up to any particular event or challenge but just gaining fitness and simply intending to maintain a good level through the winter. Sometimes, you’ve got to want it – ok, that is football cliché number 1 – and today I did even though at the same time I didn’t. It was a day of head music and at least the first two miles were dominated by Together in Electric Dreams. Over and over and over again, but it helped me to get a start. I think I must be a child, who all love repetition, especially of music and films. I am sure I know all the words now to The Lion King and, with a few minutes to revisit the precise script, I could take just about any part in a live version (though you wouldn’t want me to have to sing). I’m sure I could be Mufasa and imitate the voice of James Earl Jones, though the down side to that is that I would be stampeded by a herd of wildebeest halfway through the film. What about that shadowy place? That’s beyond our borders, you must never go there, Simba. But still, I did move in the direction of Gosport.

Gradually, I really got into the walk today despite a mild tummy upset at the time of the coffee stop at around five and a half miles. I was wary of a repeat but hung on nevertheless. I took an unusual diversion from Stubbington to Hill Head, then speed walked the whole of the promenade nearest the beach from Hill Head through Lee on Solent. I felt really determined and even sped past a pair of ‘power walkers’ – you know, where they swing their arms forward so they almost slap their face and then backwards to just about the point of dislocation and slapping anyone who is following close behind. Forget the arms, just bloomin’ walk! Looks quite stupid but at least they are letting everyone else know that they are ‘power walking’. Yes, it is super that they are getting some great exercise but if that were two blokes they would be laughed out of town, or off the promenade, at least.

I continued at a slightly lesser pace toward Gosport, passed Privett Park and turned left just before Haslar Hospital. This was a new route for me and soon I didn’t know where I was. I could only take solace from the shadows to know that I was walking in the general direction that I needed to be going, and that there was a bus route evidenced by bus stops with buses to Fareham. If I followed those I couldn’t go wrong. But I had no idea where I was. Lost in Gosport, that rapidly deleted follow-up by Bonnie Tyler to Lost in France, which incidentally I heard a few times over the summer by oh-so-clever-and-wacky DJs soon after the debacle with Iceland.

Lost in Gosport. Well, not quite true. I knew I wasn’t in Machu Picchu or that Angel Falls were just around the corner, nor could I hear cheetahs chasing down zebras in the African plains. Yes, I was somewhere between Gosport and Fareham and I would just walk until I saw something familiar, which I did after about ten minutes of mystery.

I was still feeling a touch queasy at times and was glad to take a familiar route back to Fareham and then home. Some more inspirational head music helped and I was really pleased with how far I thought I had walked – I reckoned about 22 or 23 miles based on my normal formula (relating distance to time) and the spell of speed walking. So I was disappointed when Google Maps indicated a smidgen over 21 miles. I checked it a few times and the most I could make it was 21.2. I am still sure it was more than that but I have no evidence to say otherwise. Not dinky-doo or dinky-dee but dinky-dun. Now 21 miles is a good distance, without a doubt, but I don’t understand it. I can only think that the distance-time exchange rate has plummeted after the Brexit vote and the apparent determination of the PM to carry out the “will of the people” as soon as is possible. No, I’m not going to open that debate again. What’s done is done. Get on with it now and good luck with that one…….

So not even an average day for Ben Smith. What an amazing achievement.



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