Kickin’ the s*** out of it

It is very hard to explain how one’s mood can change so quickly. On Sunday and Monday, I was very deflated and demotivated, deflated about being demotivated, and demotivated about being deflated. It felt like an interminable loop, perhaps even a spiral. So how, by Friday, can I go on my furthest ever non-event walk, and on my longest walk ever without a break? Well, on this occasion, I can offer some explanation.

On Tuesday, just in passing a colleague by chance, I was offered a little chat for about 10 minutes. Now I am not going to reveal the identity of this colleague since some of the things s/he said were very outside the book and certainly would not be in any counsellor’s training manual. But let’s call him or her ‘Dave’ for ease of writing, which may or may not be their real name. Sufficient uncertainty and all that.

We sat down and Dave, who had clearly read my blog, started. I wasn’t aware that Dave had in fact read many of my blogs, and followed my progress for some time with interest. I do know Dave in the office, though the contact now between us on work-related matters is not necessarily that regular. The conversation started as follows – I may be paraphrasing slightly – “So Keith you got this 60 mile walk?” “Actually, Dave, it’s 62.” “Well, whether it’s 60 or 62 miles, you can kick the s*** out of that walk whenever you like, and you know you can kick the s*** out of it.”

I was a bit taken aback, but more was to follow and it became like a 1970s football manager’s team talk with profanities galore. I am no prude but it is very rare that I swear myself, and I can’t remember Dave swearing too often in the past either. After about the fourth or fifth swear word, I actually found it incredibly funny and was struggling not to laugh. “But you know I’m right, Keith” was about the only sentence without any swearing. The conversation was just what I needed. By the end of Tuesday I had decided to take Friday off and walk then instead of Sunday, given the limited time for recovery before work that can sometimes limit the distance I choose to walk.

So come Friday. I had already decided to do a good distance and the weather forecast of heavy rain after 4pm persuaded me to start early, but an 8:30am time for going out of the front door is slightly early for work, let along walking. Soon I was moving at a fair rate with Portsmouth in my sights. I had a coffee stop after 11 miles in Cosham at 11:45 and I was then full of beans, so to speak. The rain was here and there but mostly very light and I marched down the island, taking an unusual route through Southsea for me to walk down some roads that I hadn’t walked down for 30 years at least. The rain became heavier for the first time near Canoe Lake but soon eased.

I was absolutely in the zone and even already looking at a very good distance indeed. I was kicking the s*** out of today’s walk and, when the heavy rain came, I kicked the s*** out of that too, and barely saw any more rain of any substance again – I’d obviously also scared the s*** out of the weather. I was going to win, and not on the Duckworth-Lewis method. The feeling was extremely empowering but both my feet and knees were feeling a bit of pain in the final five or six miles after passing through Fareham on the route back to Sarisbury Green.

I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘3’ – I knew just by the finish time, just past 7pm, that this was at least 30 miles, given I had only had that one 20 minute break back in the middle of the day, apart from short sojourns into shops for fluid. But I had slowed considerably after about 4:30pm and felt I was barely strolling at one point. Actually, I had long since reached 30 and the total distance was around 34 miles, with one stretch of 23 miles. Even on those 100km ultra challenge events, there are seven breaks. Today, that was 55km with one break. Probably more than was sensible for me but yeah, I kicked the s*** out of it. Thanks ‘Dave’.

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