22 for Scrawny

Felt full of the joys of spring this morning, despite a number of nights now without good sleep. Trying to rationalise this, I could only think that the first cricket friendly match (as opposed to the unfriendly ones) is only a fortnight away, Pompey have transitioned from possible to likely to probable to “surely they can’t mess it up now” promotion in a matter of a month, and the weather today was gorgeous. I don’t think I have ever suffered from seasonal affective disorder but the winter and short days can be hard to get through, though my lowest time during my illness was pretty much the whole of quite a decent summer weather-wise.

A long distance was always going to be a challenge but I felt very capable of it, for some reason. I took a route with a few new paths and roads, one of which took in some very nice properties indeed. It felt like as if I had strayed into one of those gated communities that appear to be so much more evident these days and perhaps I had, since I ended up in what appeared to be a massive front garden, thankfully owned by someone apparently without large and aggressive dogs but at least a large open gate between two majestic pillars. I didn’t look back as I hurried through.

I was wearing one fewer layer than usual, just a base layer and a thin Pompey hoodie and there is a route near Stubbington that I take where I always appear to bump into an old chap, always on his bike and wearing a grey woolly hat. That was the case again this afternoon (I think the fifth time!), and he asked me the time – as he always does – and commented that, “Pompey – they’re in the 4th division now aren’t they? The manager’s got to go”. I humoured him and wished him well, not daring to question the leap of logic between his two sentences. He has struck me as someone who might be lonely and needs these conversations (no doubt with anyone on his route) to keep contact with the world and sanity, though I cannot pretend that I think that the world is especially sane in the last year or so.

For the most part, it was a very warm day, I would guess the warmest of the year to date, and that presents difficulties in addition to just heat, getting tired quicker and losing fluid slightly quicker. As one’s feet get warmer they expand and this is one of the commonest reasons for blisters and other niggles. In the heat it takes less time and less distance for this to start kicking in – and I could feel a tightness in both boots by about 12 miles. I adjusted them but it was an uncomfortable slightly limpy walk for half an hour or so, until the weather clouded over to a cooler climate and the issue drifted from my mind. It is a reason why, while I normally wear shoes or trainers that are 9 or 912, my walking boots are usually size 10 or 1012, and this is ok as long as the laces are tied properly and tightly. That is not to say that I never suffer from blisters, but I certainly don’t get as many as other long distance walkers.

I was trying to walk in the shade as much as I could – and remember that it was only around 20 Celsius at most – and that helped me to stretch the distance to 22 miles. The last two miles were hard, but I would expect that and it is those extra pushes you have to make that raise the fitness. But I felt really good today, both physically and mentally, and that can only auger well. If only I could feel as positive as this every day, the world would be my oyster. I do need to build a bit more upper body strength, having been called “scrawny” last week – but she only saw my arms, she never saw my thighs…..

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