Tuesday 6 May 2014

Walking and other dangerous activities

In four days time I will attempt to walk the equivalent of a marathon (well 23 miles but the “marathon” label gives it more drama) over some big hills in the Lake District.  The Coniston to Barrow charity walk is the little sister of the horrendous / borderline psychotic challenge that is the annual Keswick to Barrow walk (40 miles!).  Only na├»ve teenagers with their infuriating natural fitness, supremely fit people who wear lycra for fun and weirdos would ever consider walking 40 miles.  My husband has done it twice (when he was 15 - so he falls into category 1, but could possibly also qualify under category 3), so my mere 23 mile jaunt holds no prestige whatsoever.  But to me this is a BIG DEAL. At this point I am tempted to blame my MS for the fact that my hips started aching after a mere 3 miles last week, but I think it has more to do with the fact that I am a 41 year old woman with a penchant for sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a bit of lemon drizzle cake. Yes, my legs have the subtle fuzzy weakness that is an ever present niggle of my condition but that does not explain why I developed three massive corns on my feet  after only two training walks. My toenails hurt, my arms hurt (WTF?) and for some inexplicable reason my jaw hurts (perhaps from all the clenching).  I realised, early doors, that leggings will need to be worn, as the chafing caused by two hours of thigh-rubbing was enough to make me weep.  So even if the sun shines on Saturday and the Lake District is basking in 100 degree heat, I will be wearing enough fabric to ensure that my inner thighs remain suitably cushioned and free of pain.

The best part of doing this walk (apart from the obvious philanthropic joy of raising money for our amazing local hospice) is the training.  I get to practice walking with some lovely ladies - the self-proclaimed “Blister Sisters” on a Sunday morning in the hills, far away from Sunday morning breakfast squabbles and homework crises. When I say I get to practice walking, what I should say is that I get to practice walking and gossiping at the same time.  Let me tell you - it’s quite a skill trying to natter with your mates while going four miles miles an hour up a mountain three miles an hour up a bit of a hill. Parenting techniques, Michael Gove, Shewees*, IBS, Botox have all cropped up as topics of (gasping) conversation, and yes I think we did talk about those things in that order (when I think Michael Gove I inevitably think Shewees and IBS). I love the fact that the first long-ish walk we attempted (12 miles) my friend brought egg sandwiches at 9am. in the morning.  It has been a female bonding exercise in the best possible way; gossiping our way to good mental health and doing enough exercise to justify the snickers bar you inevitably eat only 20 minutes after setting off.

Saturday looms large – the furthest I have walked in training is 15 miles, so I am hoping that the remaining 8 miles will be achieved with a combination of Mars Bars, my “Mo Farah iPod playlist” and the fear of looking foolish in front of lots of people from Barrow as we hobble over the finish.  If I manage the full 23 miles then it will be another two fingers up at the MS. It will be a little victory for me over my condition. As William Wallace may have once said, “You can take my legs / ability to feel temperature but you cannae take my freedom!”

Just spare a thought for the poor Keswick to Barrow 40 milers…

*For the uninitiated, a Shewee is a female urination device which enables a lady to stand up and wee like a man.  What’s wrong with squatting in a bush?

If you would like to sponsor me you can donate here

To read more about our chosen charity visit St Mary's Hospice