This weekend along with my friend, we took part in a charity walk of 26 miles. We have spent many months training for it. Our training walks were 13 miles, 15.5 miles, 18.5 miles and 21.5 miles, we did shorter walks in amongst the larger ones.
We knew we had put in the training so all we had to do was go for it on the day. Our training had also given us an indication of the areas in our body likely to give us problems, so we knew what to expect. For me this was my left hip.
In challenges like these our bodies go through a lot. We are pushing it to its limits and beyond. It’s all for such a great cause but we should also listen to our body and be sure we only push on when it is safe to do so.
Overall our walk went really well although one point really did push me to my limits.
For the first part of the final stage of the walk, (about 18.5 miles in) there was a hill, a very steep hill with a sharp incline. It came right off the back of our final pit stop of tea and a snack, we were unaware but feeling refreshed and ready to go. So when we got to the bottom of the hill a few participants ahead of us were chatting and asked us if we had done this challenge before. We said no and it was then as we were away to begin our ascent, one of the ladies said ‘welcome to hell’.
How bad could it really be? Well, the first 2 minutes seemed ok, steep but tiring, then when you rounded the corner and looked up, my heart sank and I just didn’t know where I was going to find the energy or ability to get me up this darn hill. On a few occasions I wanted to quit on several more I was close to bursting into tears but I kept saying to myself, keep breathing and put one foot in front of the other. It hadn’t helped that there had been several downpours before that point, making the hill very muddy and slippy. There were stewards on the hill which helped, and everyone struggling up it were offering words of encouragement to each other. Afterall, we are all there to finish it if we can and it is for a great cause.
With my cheeks burning, my heart racing and my hip aching, I got to the top with a huge huge breath of relief. I was again close to tears, but keeping going was the only thing on my mind at that point, with around 7 miles to go, I wasn’t giving up.
As we counted down the miles, and with the finish line getting closer, we powered on. Despite the fact my hip was sore and I had blisters on one of my feet, we kept on moving. Around 2-3 miles to go the rain starting pouring down, it eased until the last 15 minutes or so and it started again. At this point, our jackets were round our waist and we were not going to put them on and break our flow. I’m not going to lie, the last mile felt longer that the rest, but perhaps that was due to meeting more people as we got closer to the finish line. We were in the town and walking alongside a lot of people all navigating to the end on narrow pavements.
When we crossed the finish line I was so overwhelmed with joy and happiness and relief that we had completed. The lady putting the medal over my head said ‘congratulations’ and I burst into tears, she asked if I was ok and she then gave me a hug. The kindness of strangers.
We were given a glass of fizz, had photos taken and then we went into a tent to get some much needed food. The sense of achievement I feel is huge. Although I love walking and my friend and I put so much into the training, you never know how things will go on the day. We saw people crying along the way, others were stopping and calling the event team for help, we saw ambulances, people getting picked up. We saw someone fall. No matter how much training you do, something on the day can go array.
To all those people who couldn’t complete due to injury, pain, illness or you just couldn’t give any more. You guys are amazing, you did what you could and should be proud of that. There is never any shame in asking for help when you need it. Believe me, the hill from hell would have been my ending, but my friend just kept talking to me and telling me I can do it.
If you ever wish to do a challenge and raise money for charity, then I absolutely recommend the Mighty Hikes for Macmillan Cancer Support. The team looked after us all so well and we are pleased that my friend and I we were able to raise £700.
No matter what challenges you are facing now, or in the future, just know that it won’t only be friends and family there to support you, but strangers can also have an impact on you too. A few words of encouragement, a clap and cheer and toot of a car horn can really help you when you need it most. Stay strong and look after you.
Have a great week.