Final training walk

June 1, 2015

We will set off for the Coast to Coast walk next Monday so our final training walk was planned for yesterday, Sunday. What could possibly go wrong?

Firstly, I still have this adverse neurodynamic tension (don’t ask) such that my left buttock and hamstring feel like they have been kicked and will snap at any moment but actually it’s all to do with my sciatic nerve getting irritated and trapped by various spinal misalignments. But intense physio is trying to sort that out as much as it can. But that really wasn’t the problem.

The problem started the night before. When friends invited us to a pop up restaurant in Fulham and the food was so shit we had to drown it out with copious amounts of wine. And then go back to theirs to continue. By one am listening to the Philppines answer to the Everley Brothers seemed a good idea. Hubby kept insisting we needed to test ourselves at getting up early and setting off so we were talking about getting to Princes Risborough for 9 am, which meant leaving home at 8am. Our friends said they’d come too and do the 20km walk with us. It all seemed such a good idea at the time.

Another friend texted at 640 am on the Sunday morning which woke me before the alarm and I started doing my exercises from the physio to loosen my back. I got up, drank a pint of water and put the kettle on. I couldn’t face eating as the bucket of Brie I’d had the night before was laying heavy on me. Forecast was rain all morning, easing off later so got dressed in showerproof trousers and top and packed my waterproofs in my rucksack. Took coffee up to hubby who told me to fuck off. Told him he’d wanted this early morning test so he should get up. He disagreed. I said we were meeting our friends at 9 in P Risborough. He didn’t believe me. Had no recollection of the conversation. Assumed they wouldn’t do it. I said we couldn’t assume that and had to get going. It was too early to text them to see if they were really coming as it was Sunday morning about 730 after a hard night before. But then they texted us to see if we really were still going for 9. We said yes. Hubby got up, we packed some nuts, flapjacks and apples and I filled my brand new camel pack to try it out. Took me about ten minutes to work out how to shut it, but got there eventually.

Bumbled around getting socks and boots, hubby packed the car as I went to the loo for the third time that morning and eventually we were ready to roll. We got to the agreed meeting place and hubby asked me for the book with the walk in it. I said I didn’t have it. He said “I gave it to you” I said “You didn’t” “He said, “I did, with my keys”. I said, “You didn’t” This is a common ‘joke’ he plays, but he wasn’t joking this time. We had no fucking map.

Our friends hadn’t yet arrived so we set off to look for a map shop. At 9 am on a Sunday no shops are open except garages and a newsagent. Surprisingly they didn’t sell OS maps. It was too far to go back home for it and come back. We needed to find a shop. I suggested Fox’s in Amersham which is an outdoor shop I’ve been to in the past. So we set the satnav, texted our friends what’s happened and set off. It seems to take forever to get there and hubby curses why we haven’t gone to High Wycombe or Aylesbury that are nearer. “Because I can’t get internet on my phone to find out if they have a walking shop”. Nothing was going in our favour.

Until we found Fox’s, it was open and we got the book with the walk in it. Got back to P Risborough where our friends had coffee and croissants in the car and bought us sandwiches for lunch. We set off at 1045, nearly two hours late, proving beyond doubt we can’t get up early and get out. or at least not with all the correct equipment.

The walk itself was easy, but even with the map we got lost numerous times and had to retrace or steps, adding on a couple of extra miles. It was more the text in the book is sometimes ambiguous and we seemed to opt for the wrong interpretation rather than poor map reading. But then we found a pub very near the end and had a swift one. I’d never do this on the Coast to Coast – partly because we won’t pass any pubs as we’ll be in the wilds of the North, not the suburban rurality that is the Chilterns, and partly because once I stop I don’t want to restart. I just want to bed in for the rest of the day. But we couldn’t do that as we were going out in the evening so had to be back in time to shower, change, get the glad rags on and get out.

So the final training wasn’t a complete success. But that’s what they say about dress rehearsals –  a bad one means a great opening night. Here’s hoping.

Best foot forwardI have gone to Saturday morning Step classes for years. Come rain, come shine. Currently it is the pre-choreographed Les Mills BodyStep.  And I love them. To be honest, any class that has a  “party track” is right up my street. Usually I am feeling pretty ropey at the start of the class after a hard night the night before, but gradually the alcohol is sweated out of me and by the end I feel great. But not today. Oh no. Today, Sarah “My body is a temple” Clarke was not hungover. And how fucking hard is BodyStep when you’re sober?? I shan’t be making that mistake again. I’ve obviously been doing it in a semi-pissed fugue up to now. And getting on just fine. Never realised it was so bloody tricky. But today I went arse over tit during the speed track. The one track where the step is at it’s lowest -to make it easier. Two stutters, across the step and back but my feet were unable to coordinate and managed to trip over the step and go flying. Smack on to my left buttock. Then I couldn’t get back in to the rhythm -my mind and feet were not communicating and I was all over the place.  Luckily only one more track to go and as it starts the instuctor shouts “Single, single, double” and I suddenly feel at home. Can’t think why.

Feeling good

Feeling good

So this week we have spent four nights in the Lake District, hoping to do some tough hill walking for the first two days and something less arduous for the third. In anticipation, hubby did all the planning and all I had to do was turn up. He felt it was a holiday and I felt it was a training camp. It turned out to be both.

So here are the things I learnt (well, those that are relevant to the Coast to Coast!) :

  1. I felt physically OK in terms of fitness. Hell, we walked up Helvellyn – 3000 feet and I didn’t crumble.  I felt mentally OK in terms of capability. Unfortunately I twisted my knee which made downhill bloody hard going. But am hoping it’s nothing serious. It was helped using hubby’s knee support and Nurofen. Luckily his torn cartilage didn’t play up enough to need the support himself. But we might need to think about carrying a spare….
  2. I felt absolutely fine the following morning – in complete contrast to the previous Lake District escapade. Probably because i did a bit of stretching when we’d finished.
  3. The terrain is really hard going. All those bloody rocks and stones. It’s as if the walking isn’t bad enough, there’s the hills themselves but on top of that is the terrain. The South Downs and Chilterns are just not a remote substitute or training ground. Everything underfoot is uneven and we were doing it in perfect conditions. Given rain the slipperiness would be really tricky.
  4. The weather can be mental – baking sun in April meant we should have had protection that can’t be sweated off. And some kind of headband to keep the sweat out of my face. My little towelling wristband was a godsend.
  5. Even Shellac got destroyed scrambling up rocks. No nail varnish on the Coast to Coast!
  6. Testing out socks gave me a blister on the final day. They were ones without liners so I think I’m going to stick to sock liners.
  7. Look before you leap – obvious but equally applies to cutting what I thought was a toenail that was pressing in to me. Transpires I cut the top off a blister with nail clippers..
  8. Compeed is way better than the generic alternatives from the likes of Superdrug.
  9. I got too hot in my Craghopper long trousers which up to now have been my favourites. They’re only going to be worn if it is unseasonably cold in June.
  10. My new Berghaus long sleeve stripy top and Jack Wolfskin jacket were great. But think I need a top with a collar to stop rucksack rubbing as when I didn’t have the jacket on I could feel it a the base of my neck. Ah a retail opportunity…
  11. And the Lakes own gin, Bedrock, has convinced me it is the drink for me. Ah, another retail opportunity…

Training update 2

April 1, 2015

So I’m half way through my Personal Training  – the Coast to Coast walk starts in just under ten weeks. We have our first serious test next week with three days walking in the Lakes (hubby’s knees permitting). And I’m ready for it. I continue to feel stronger and fitter despite continuing to go out and get lashed. And despite being unable to get past chips on a menu. But I’m still drinking the water and not drinking alcohol unless I’m socialising (and yes, weekends at home count as socialising). So I’ve cut down on that front. And I continue to do PT twice a week and hopefully they are getting harder as I’m getting fitter. Still enjoying the outside fresh air and feel better all day. Then this weekend just gone I felt great. No, really great. I suddenly actually felt fit again. Yes, I’m still purple in class and sweat more than anyone I know, but I feel stronger. Still not light on my feet or agile, but definitely stronger. And mentally more prepared!

And I’ve lost a stone. It’s bloody hard work – the ‘making healthier choices/thinking about what I’m eating’ –  much harder than the physical stuff . Probably because the physical stuff at the moment lasts an hour or perhaps two whereas I’m constantly thinking about food! And living with an incredible cook whose baked goods I find really hard to resist. And going out a lot. But getting there. Getting there. Fingers crossed.

Taken ten days ago

Taken ten days ago

Royale is set in the segregated US and follows the true story of Jack Johnson who has the audacity to want to fight the white heavy weight champion of the world so that he can claim the title if he wins. It is beautifully staged and slickly choreographed with a brilliant soundtrack of thuds, stamps and claps to punctuate the story. They do boxing really well.

And the exchanges with his sister had me in tears so it is really worth going to see, but i would have liked even more of that narrative. I think it could have packed an even greater punch. Three plus stars.

Training update!

February 20, 2015

So, I’ve had a Personal Trainer twice a week for the last six weeks. All in preparation for the big Coast to Coast walk in June. And i have tried to take on board everything she says. Even when I don’t know the evidence base for it; I’ve decided to simply put my trust in her methods, shut the fuck up and get on with it. So I am drinking only one cup of coffee a day, 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day (but NOT from a plastic bottle at work I hasten to add) and trying to eat more healthily. But her role is not to advise me as a dietician – my main goal is to be fitter and stronger and a nice side effect would be to lose weight but that’s not the focus.  The focus is on being able to do the coast to coast.

And I am feeling much fitter and stronger. And I am fitter and stronger. She’s given me a much more positive outlook on my capabilities. And helped me stop using my trapezius muscles for everything. And to try to find my core. And I particularly enjoy our outdoor sessions in the park. For the last two sessions I have actually looked forward to them. This is a new feeling. And yesterday we did the measurements to see how my body is changing. And I’d lost 6 pounds. Not much considering the fundamental change in eating habits I’ve undertaken (but not when I’m out or when there’s Sunday roast or a special occasion obviously), but she thinks it is fat loss rather than water as I’ve lost 8cm from my waist, 2 cm from each upper arm and 6 cm from each thigh. So hopefully I’m a tiny bit leaner and quite a bit fitter.

The test will come this weekend when hubby and I go away and are walking for a couple of days. He’s told me there’s no crying allowed this time. Let’s hope it’s smiles all the way and no snivelling silently. I’ll make sure I’m not crying aloud whatever happens.

Crab Bucket. Four stars.

February 14, 2015

After the opera a few weeks ago we repaired to the Opera Tavern where we chanced upon a lovely waitress. Easy conversationalist, bright, witty and fun. And sure enough she was a resting actress – but soon to start rehearsing for a play at waterloo east theatre. So we went last night.

i was put off by the blurb telling me the play ‘explores the issues surrounding young women in society today and how their apathy and sexuality can have a profound effect on the recognition of their place in the world around them.” And that the playwright was a man.

But I was really pleasantly surprised – it wasn’t a worthier-than-thou look at women pulling each other down, it was a poignant and funny take on the relationships between two sets of sisters and their friends, interwoven with classic fairytales. Our waitress was the bride to be at the hen weekend where the drama unfolds and she was great  – an ethereal dreamer and one who managed to shed real tears. Her supporting cast were equally believable – with sharp and pithy conversations and plenty of humour thrown in.

7 women, 80 minutes straight through and all for a tenner. I’ve no doubt we will see more of many of the cast so I’m doubly glad we caught them now. Four stars


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