Wednesday 27 July 2011

They think its all over, well it was a while back

Okay, apologises its taken so long to write this. Well the walk is all over and done with for the year, and was, well, to be blunt one hell of a challenge, and literally broke me.

Simply put I didn't finish, I simply couldn't. After 62.1KM my knees totally went from under me and I had to pull out, just after checkpoint 6. Anyways, this was just the abridged version for those who cant be bothered to read the rest ;)

For those that can be bothered, here's how it all happened.

We left the office at 4, oh no wait, that was the intended time to leave, the coach had another idea. We eventually got on our way from the office just as evening rush hour was building up, and our coach was missing a few vital features, such as `air`, not just air con, but AIR.. it was like sitting inside a plastic bag for a few hours :) great start :) Our support team were lucky in that they were driving in the car, which HAD air con, but was so overladen with stuff am sure it drove like a wet lettuce.

Arriving at the camp site was cool, as we got our glimpse at the set up the Gurkha's had for us. Lots of big tents full of people and food :) oh and tea on tap :)

We registered our team of 3, one of our team having to drop out last minute on medical advice, and got given our tags which we would need to log our progress on RFID readers along the route.

Then we had the fun task of setting up our tent for the nights stay, again our support team were very proficient and it was up very quickly and looked almost luxurious compared to some of the other tents around us, altho there were plenty of `seriously never been camping before` tents which had gazebos and looked like had en-suite bathrooms they were rather large and imposing.

The rain had held off so far but was slowly moving in on us as we finished up our evening meal of 4 types of pasta and bolognese (even had a veggie option which some took without realising until had the mince version for 2nds). I found the tea urn very quickly and whilst most were downing cans of beer from the bar, I was enjoying the typhoon tea on offer :) You can take the Yorkshireman out of Yorkshire and all that ;)

Pool of water above my head.
The amount of people camping overnight wasn't as many as I'd thought, I guess they'd seen the weather forecast and were planning on turning up early in the morning instead, and to be honest I think in hindsight that was a good idea. The rain was pretty relentless :( We had 8 teams entered into the event, and MOST of the teams were all present and set up when we decided to head to the tent as it was getting dark and wet, i say most, there were a few teams who hadn't actually even started to build their tents due to late arrival of support team or `dinner arrangements` ;) The poor guys who were waiting had to just huddle about and then finally build things IN the rain in the remaining spaces, not fun at all.

I woke up to see a very large pool of water right above my head threatening to seep thru and give me a wake up shower

Woke up very early, well couldn't really sleep to be honest, mixture of excited and fear all rolled into one handy package stopping me from sleeping, oh that and the snoring :)

Camp site the morning after.
Got up with a team member, leaving the others in the land of nod, and expertly got out of sleeping bag, got dressed and left the tent without them noticing, not an easy task when you realise we were 5 people in a 4 man tent :)

We went for a wander, and to get a cuppa from the main tent. Was about 6ish

View of the main `tea` tent

With the start times being staggered, with `early`, `not as early` and `humane morning` options. We were going at the `not as early` time of 830am. So plenty of time to get some brekkie and more tea. The breakfast wasn't as tasty as the dinner from the night before, but wasn't complaining. There was copious amounts of bread and bacon so bacon butties were the order of the day.

After we'd taken the tent down and got ourselves psyched up for the start we made our way to the line, to be met by a wall of `plastic` with people seemingly covering themselves in really strange makeshift waterproofing equipment, ie Sainsbury's bags wrapped around shoes and over backpacks.. With the weather forecasts saying it was going to be wet would have thought they would have realised that bring more permanent protection, oh well their loss :)

We had a quick briefing and a thank you from the organisers and a little after 830 we were off.. slowly, and steadily. The sheer number of people meant that there wasn't really going to be any time we'd be out of sight of another group of walkers, and that remained true for my entire walk, I don't think we once looked at a map as we didn't need to.

Well i say didn't need to, the sheer volume of rain meant that the paths were totally bogged down, and we were just following the footprints and slide marks from the earlier groups.

For the first 2 checkpoints we were in either drizzle or real hard rain, which totally sapped my motivation and made the going very slow. However i did get light relief from the fact I'd paid not a great deal for my waterproof coat/trousers etc, yet i heard people moaning how much they'd paid for their equipment (even heard the word `thousands` being bandied about) and they were just as soaked through as me, so yay for cheap :)

CP2 was a river of mud for the support teams. We were huddled under our umbrella and boot of the support car trying to eat sarnies, as the mud flowed past our feet. Other teams had full gazebos setup and looked as if they did this thing every day and were wondering what all the kerfuffle was about  :)

The rain slowly eased after CP 2 and even had a little sun breaking through by CP4. However the paths were still totally bogged down and huge pools of water blocked our way on many occasions, so we got very wet feet, meaning blisters weren't long in forming (well they were inevitable anyway but being wet wasn't helping).

CP4 burgers (off screen)
Had to do a little blister management at CP3 sans support team as they had stopped off at a pub for grub and also the CP itself was in total chaos. This was thanks to the rain making the entrance/exit for vehicles a mud bath and the roads were total gridlock around. We advised our support team to skip CP3 and meet us at CP4. Which they did and they gave us a lovely surprise of a hot apple and pork burger.. After the hell we'd just suffered in the rain this was SO needed.

We set off with a gusto after a decent meal, but this was the beginning of the end for my body. The hills i could manage by just slowing down, but what goes up, must come down, and it was the slow gradual descents on the gravel and harder paths was making my walk more and more painful. I slowed right down and could feel my muscles and knees starting to fight me.

Arriving at CP5 I was in total agony. Stopping by the Red Cross tent got advised to take painkillers, get a massage and see how it went. Gotta love field medicine :) Promptly hobbled to the queue for the massages and got advised by the physio to get the left knee strapped up.

We'd got knee supports in the support car so I prescribed myself a knee support and 2 Ibuprofens. Now I have a history with painkillers, I don't take them often due to how they make me VERY hyper. I warned my 2 team mates in advance and apologised if I babbled and went `a little mental` in the next section.

Doped up and strapped up we set off, back at a very quick pace, if anything TOO quick a pace, but i couldn't feel a thing and was commenting on the shapes of the clouds looking like pigs and the like (i did WARN them!)

The end of this stage was a very gradual slow decline on a tarmac path and it totally destroyed me OTHER knee :( I was in utter agony as the painkillers had worn off and my body was really fighting me. We'd made it to CP6 however. Sitting down was murder as my body was saying `right don't get up` but i HAD to sort out my feet as my socks were wet and i needed to change them. So catch 22.

After a quick break and a mini `damsel in distress` rescue mission by our support team - Another team had had 2 drop outs and there was no room in their car so we became a taxi for one of their support team taking her to the next CP - we set off for CP7.

The start of this stage was flat as it followed a river for a bit but even this was a struggle, I'd dosed myself back up with more Ibuprofen but it wasn't making any difference, every step was painful. This stage took us through a village and at the other end of the village was a BIG hill, and i get the feeling my body was very aware of this. Crossing a road and lifting my leg to mount the curb was too much for my right knee to take, and it totally went from under me, i only stayed upright as my walking pole took the weight. I was done :( My head was so angry at my body for failing it that i was still adamant i could continue and it took my team mates saying enough was enough before we called the support team (just finishing their previous rescue mission) and told them to come pick me up.

To add to my mental embarrassment, as we were waiting for the support team, a large number of walkers from the other Square Enix teams walked past us as I was sat unceremoniously on a wall. Felt so bad that I was letting them all down by not being able to walk off with them. Its amazing how your mind really fights common sense and logic sometimes, people keep telling me I did an amazing thing and should be so proud of what i had achieved, but at that moment on the side of the road I felt a failure.

The support team picked me up and we made our way to CP7 where I `de registered ` myself, and I made another visit to the red cross to seek advice. They were very worried by my knee and its `movement` etc and strapped it up with bandages. I was now a hobbler and a support crew member. This was all about 1-2am so was absolutely knackered, but carried on.

The remaining 2 members of our team `TrailRaiders` soldiered on, but by CP9 we had another major injury worry and we were down to 1, now technically that's not allowed, so they attached themselves onto another Square Enix team, and crossed the finish line at the Brighton Racecourse with them.

My knee swollen
At the Racecourse I was looked at by the physio again and they gave me 3 scenarios, ranging from `ahh` to `WTF?`.. the `ahh` scenario was that it was just really severe wear and tear but no permanent damage done and that after a few days hobbling about would mend and be fine, the `WTF?` scenario being a need for keyhole surgery to correct the cartilage that was damaged etc.. I didn't like the sound of that option, but after a week i was still hobbling about, and had to use my walking pole for that whole week as simply couldn't walk  up/downhill without it..

THANKFULLY 10 days after my knee and joints are not quite as pissed off at me and I'm moving about almost normally now, just the occasional twinge if I stretch too far or go too fast. Driving a Lamborghini on the 25th probably wasn't the best thing for my recovery as the clutch was SO heavy, but hey i wasn't gonna miss out on that :)
Knee strapped in the hotel room

Dessert heaven
I must also mention that after the event we were all treated to a room at the Grand Hotel on the Brighton seafront. Where we promptly collapsed and passed out until the evening where we had to WALK! to the restaurant right on the sand for a celebratory meal. However the buffet and dessert were simply heaven and well worth the 20 steps had to take to get into the restaurant.

After the meal we hobbled back to the hotel bar where we had partook in a nightcap (brandy for me heh) and then retired to the rooms. Breakfast was a lovely buffet again and we waited for our coach to turn up and take us back to reality.

Coach back to Wimbledon
The reality being that we'd just taken part in the most challenging thing we may possibly ever do, and whilst I didn't complete, I felt I had done something in helping raise money for the Gurkha Welfare trust and Oxfam.

Oh as a last note I have to mention the amazing Gurkha's themselves. Truly in awe of them, they organised and marshalled the event, and had a team actually RUN the course in under 10 hours THEN go back to marshalling! that's truly something else.. ah and as a mini sub-note to this mention the Gurkha who saw me hobbling at the end and asked where my medal was, when said I didn't have one as I hadn't completed the course, he ran off and got me one and gave me a little thank you presentation apologising for failing me, as if my knees giving up was somehow related to a fault in their organisation of the event. I quickly tried to correct him it was my body failing not them :)

Would I do it again next year? erm.. maybe support..... ;) and as a very final note.. if you've not sponsored, you still can here

Thursday 14 July 2011

24 hours to go

Okay thats only until we set off to the field to camp out the night before (register etc) but still, ARGH!! 24 hours!!! argh.. there its out of my system now, oh wait ARRGH.. no now it is..

I wont be able to blog until its over, so if this is my last blog next week u'll know why lol

Been packing my support box with essential things i will need.. so got my waterproofs in there, which is essential now since the weather forecast is for heavy rain!! wtf its JULY!! sigh.. i've got my flapjacks for in walk snacks, and a bag of nuts to provide energy.. we're looking to have a buffet it sounds like for `food` at each checkpoint, where we can make up sarnies/rolls quickly etc.. i just hope like all buffets it has mini sausage rolls and cheese and pineapple on a stick.

We're going out for a team lunch today, so thats gonna be a carb based meal i reckon :) after being on a carb lite diet for a few years my body is truly loving this even, it wont be thinking that in 72 hours time i reckon :)

Dont forget to check out the live oxfam page so can track our progress on the day/s

Oh and of course its never too late to sponsor me!!!

Well as i said this is the last blog before the event.. so erm, wish me luck eh?

Sunday 10 July 2011

This time next week.......

It will be all over. Eek. Cant believe it is so close.

Shopping yesterday was a major success with Lakeside seemingly being stuck in sale mode in every store with the outdoor store having 70% off everything :) got absolutely everything on my list, all for how much expected to pay for just the waterproof jacket alone :) this included a set of walking poles :) and a drinking backpack thingy. Yes am truly that knowledgeable in the world of outdoor trail walking ;)

Am updating this on my phone and have to say it aint the best experience :( silly site knows am on my phone but doesn't allow keyboard in anything but advanced html edit mode. Boo. Oh well

Anyways this is just a short update :) dont forget to check out our page here.

Friday 8 July 2011

1 week to go, last minute shopping needs

Well its 1 week until we are on our way to a field in Petersfield to camp and prepare ourselves for the 100km walk. Hmm how do i feel? nervous as sin? scared? worried? erm all 3?

I don't think my brain is going to accept its happening until am literally walking away from the starting point and THEN its gonna say `ARE YOU CRAZY!?!`

I've done all the walking i can, altho i plan on going shopping in Lakeside this weekend for last minute items i need, so that will add a few Km am sure :) who would have thought doing something for charity could be so expensive :) heh.. our company has got 8 teams taking part and all of us have raised in excess of £1800, most surpassing £2000, thats not to say everyone has sponsored, there is quite a few who havent, you KNOW who you are ;)

Heres your chance to sponsor if you hadnt noticed the link on EVERY blog i've done, or my homepage, OR on Facebook etc :) 

Might blog next week, but if not, then next blog will be a `post event` update. :) *knees shake*

Friday 10 June 2011

36 days to go, training stalling a bit :(

Well as the title suggests, its 36 days until the big day, and haven't done any major walks since the north downs walk last week. Not good :( Will need to do a walk home soon, to try and keep legs going etc. Weathers gonna be a pain tho I can imagine, altho obvious this again is probably good for trying out the waterproof' jacket i got etc.. ahh well lets cross that bridge when come to it..

Other teams from Square are doing an overnight walk tonight, i believe our team was going to join them but schedules got busy and had to pull out. My schedule this weekend is taken up with my lovely girlfriend taking part in the `Race for Life` event in Essex on Sunday. She has a sponsorship page going :) Will be there supporting her, hmm wonder if they'd mind me actually going along with her `supporting/training` ;)

Anyways, will get back to my training next week, walking home on Wednesday etc.. we have a long walk planned for during the day `soon` but work commitments are hampering that now too. Boo..

As always will end this with the link to our sponsorship page ;)


Saturday 28 May 2011

Holy crap just walked 40km and my feet havent melted

Well that was a interesting trip. Friday night our team went to Boxhill & Westhumble, then walked to a tiny old cottage in the middle of a wood which is a national trust property converted into a Youth Hostel (Tanners Hatch). Interesting place, tiny, full of unfortunately rude germans (sorry Jan but they were loud til very late, and woke up very early and didnt stop slamming the doors THEN nicked the tomatoes we'd brought!). Anyways I digress, we walked there, checked in then walked BACK to find a pub which was right by the station. Had a few pints and dinner at a lovely pub called `The Stepping Stones`. Will definitely pop in there again sometime. Great food and interesting locals :)

After it got a little dark we headed back into the woods, head torches on ;). We called it a night, but the germans (see above) decided it was fine to be in the room right beneath us and with a paper thin ceiling talk very loudly and slam the doors until very late. Altho i kept being woken by ANOTHER germans loud snoring (again sorry Jan). Once finally got to sleep was woken by a loo trip at 330am ;) then by another about 630, THEN by the now infamous loud germans who woke up and thought it was acceptable to assume we were awake and talked even LOUDER and slam the door constantly..

After a very comically improvised breakfast of scrambled egg, bacon and toast (sans tomatoes *grrrs towards germans again) and one fire alarm set off. WE set off. So to recap we'd walked to the hostel, back to the pub then back to the hostel, this equalled 11.5km before we'd even actually started and we had the walk to the bottom of Boxhill to come. Now this was supposed to be a simple direct line walk up the North Downs way to the base of the hill, but this required us to follow signs that just didnt exist.. So we ended up going a very strange route just to our starting point :) All good practise tho yeh?

So after walking thru some lovely vineyards (Dom on cloud 9) we got to the stepping stones themself, which are at the base of the Hill..

Hope the guys dont mind me posting this pic, showing off Rich's shorts ;)

I'd heard about Boxhill before, and its supposed to be a big deal to climb but nothing really prepared me for how tough this was. It was relentless STEEP, my GOD was it steep and never ending! Check out the altitude info on the walk details. That was probably not the best start you could do for a long walk! :) Anyways once we got to the top and got our breaths back we lost them again when we saw the view.

It just looked so amazing looking down and back on where we'd just walked from.

Anyways, long story short ;) we walked for another 22k and encountered a few more pretty evil ascents and descents before arriving in Caterham, altho the trek thru the cemetary was a little creepy especially the guy who just appeared walking up the steps we needed to go down to leave and he didnt look the sorta person you'd want to see in a graveyard!!!

We popped into Pizza Express, with `express` being the hope as we were going to get a train in 40 mins back to Home.. which needed yet another walk from the station.. So all in all my total walking in the 24 hour period was 42.35km!!! thats a lot, but actually only 42% of what we need to do in July!! in the same period!! OUCCCCCH

So am home, my feet are NOT killing me, altho am sure will be stiff/sore in the morning. I've had a lovely dinner and cuppas from my sweety (yay) and its time to relax so for now will say ta ta, and once again remind you of why am doing this :)

Wednesday 25 May 2011

52 days, under 8 weeks.. training about to get real ;)

As my regular reader(s) will know the sponsored walk is now just under 8 weeks, and the money is still only trickling in, but at least its coming :)

I am not planning on walking home today, mostly due to fact we are doing a team, North Downs walk on Saturday morning, early. Walking from Dorking, to Boxhill then onto Caterham, all in all about 25k walk this weekend. Should give good indicator on our team speed/pace etc. Also as we're starting the team event on Friday night, is probably first time we've all been as a group outside the office, so again be good to see how we cope with each other over a longer period (including our overnight stay in the hostel in Dorking).

What else, oh yeh bought some more socks today from Millets, 2 for 1 offer always on look out for bargain me :) also our team tshirts are being designed as i speak, hopefully be able to get a picture of them up when they are made.

Will be tracking my walk this weekend on Runtastic so people can see how we did (as long as battery dont fail on me) :)

Anyways, time to end this with the obligatory link to the sponsor page :)