Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Pushing the inside of the Envelope!

Had an early start at work yesterday, which meant an earlier finish, so I thought I'd try a longer walk to push things on a bit. Bev works in Tewkesbury so I thought "Why not walk to Tewkesbury, and get a lift home?" Something about a linear walk rather than a circular one that helps with the motivation.

Anyway, worked the route distances out on WalkJogRun, it's about 11.5 miles, and also I noted where the mile points fell so that I could get an idea of my pace.

Set off just after 1pm from Cheltenham and kept up a comfortable pace, and once the old legs loosened up felt really comfortable. Covered the first 4 miles in 55 minutes which surprised me as I didn't feel that I was really pushing on that hard. The last couple of miles started to feel a bit more of a strain but I did the whole lot in 2 hours 45 minutes, which I was quite pleased with. Thanks go to Bridgedale Trekker Endurance socks, Scarpa boots and Misc "Protein" bars (from Millets!). No blisters, just slightly achey legs!

We're planning to do a Spa2Summit team training walk in about 4 weeks (probably the first 20 miles of our June route), and I now a bit happier about my progress. Another couple of longer walks and 20 miles, No Problem! 70 miles, some problems...

Keep watching!

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Hit the gym today in an attempt to boost Cardio fitness. 10 minute run, 15 minutes on the bike and 30 on the x-trainer. My thanks go to The Killers, Prodigy, GnR, Charlie Daniels Band, Heart, Rush Motorhead and Iron Maiden for helping me through it! Felt ok, kept the old heart rate ticking over at 145-150. Getting these sessions regular (that's the real difficulty) should see quick and noticeable improvements, I'm hoping.
Lining up a quick 6-8 miler early Saturday I think. I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Spa Trek

Understandably, organising a journey of this magnitude requires much planning and forethought. Each member of the team brings to the table their own individual skills and abilities. For example Simon is a trained paramedic, ready to leap into action should the unthinkable happen. Then there is Ken who, with his organisational skills, makes sure that nothing is left to chance. Should we run into trouble and need to hitch a lift, I can show drivers my fantastic legs to get them to stop for us. So we all have skills.

For some reason this made me think of Star Trek. I loathe Star Trek but the parallels of that series and our expedition are clear, particularly when Captain Kirk & company are assembling a team to explore a hostile land. I should point out one subtle difference though: the crew of the Enterprise have it easy - while they get to beam down to their distant location, we have to walk there.

Without Pete this challenge wouldn't be happening. With his drive, never-say-die attitude and rigid hair he is clearly our Captain Kirk.

Displaying a quiet authority and coolness under pressure, Mr Spock is the secret to Kirk's successes. He gets things done with a minimum of fuss. For this reason Ken is our Spock.

Working away in the Enterprise's engine room (or whatever it's called on a spaceship) is Scotty. The obvious choice for Scotty is Scotty, just because of the slightly similar names but on this occasion Jonty has to be the guy. He is the one to fix things, to provide us with more power when we need it. You could be mistaken for thinking he'll be in the background but without him success would be impossible.

Next up is Doctor McCoy, the ship's doctor. This is an easy one. As the only paramedic in our fellowship Simon is the clear choice. Just like Star Trek's Bones, Simon won't put up with the Captain's shenanigans and daft quips.

That leaves Ollie, Scott, Grant and myself and sadly I've used up the extent of my Star Trek knowledge. The only other characters I remember from Star Trek are Sulu, Chekov and the very female Uhura. Take your pick as to who is who. My fantastic legs make me the obvious choice for Uhura but I'd ask you to think carefully about that. After you've privately assigned us to our various characters you'll notice that one of us is left over. Don't worry, in Star Trek there was always a token guy with a clipboard destined to die at the first sign of trouble.

I mean.. 'How hard can it be!?!'

This infamous statement is often said on Top Gear by Jeremy Clarkson, which is promptly followed by a 20 minute film showing that it is always, much, much harder and more work than you could ever expect!! With this attitude I decided to take on 'Pete's invitation', at the time simply thinking it will be difficult, but worth it.

Very quickly though this optimism has seemed to disappear!! 70 miles in a car is known as a fair ol' journey, walking that however is a whole different ball-game. Everytime I set out for a bit of a walk, and someone has said "do you realise we've already done one mile?!", I'd respond grudgingly "Oh genius, but I've gotta do 70 of 'em!" Conversation would promptly wain, as I'm dragged into my thoughts of a surreal series of events involving the coast guards, the TA and various mountain rescues!!

Action was required. Plan A. I've aimed to get going on some sort of training immediately, doing a daily three-quarters-of-an-hour walk, in my lunch break, around Gloucester town. (which everyone will admit can be a mixed bag to say the least!! From Inspiring, to well...down right depressing!) That should at least add to the mileage that my legs will need to do. I also am trying to walk home from work, when I have opportunity or the time in the evening... the issue will be whether I can string all these little walks into something more substantial, all the while, hoping that the knee stays intact (but more about that in a later entry!).

I'm telling myself the hard work starts here!! As Ken reminded us recently, only 165 days to go, and so much to do, let alone, start on the fund raising and publicity drive for this thing... but as I keep telling myself... as long as we all make a substantial amount for MacMillan.. , it'll be worth it!!

So Jezza... how hard can it be?........ Trust me, VERY!

(P.s. boys - I'm not planning on entertaining, I'm just planning on dragging myself to Pen y fan!! Ha ha!!)

Baby Steps

Walking. I've done it for years. Unfortunately that's where the problem lies.

Because we've all been doing it for ages we tend to think we're experts in it. For example, I'm 8 years older than my girlfriend - does that mean I'm a better walker than her? I've seen her walk, she does it really well! Further examples include people in their 70s and 80s - with their experience they should be much better at walking than I am but some of them are rubbish at it, I've seen them. I overtake most of them when I walk through town.

So when the Spa2Summit challenge wafted past my ears, with its 70-odd miles of walking I thought it'd be a doddle, something I actually knew how to do. I'll prove it: to walk I always apply the following procedure: 1) extend right leg forward past left leg, 3) bring left leg forward past right leg, 4) repeat. Admittedly there are alternatives to these instructions and intricate flourishes that can be added (depending on the confidence and experience of the participant) but I find these basic principles have always helped me. I subtly asked Pete if anyone else could join in with his plans and he said yes so here I am.

I love walking. When visiting a new town or city there's no better way to take in its sights, smells and atmosphere than to ignore its public transport and set about it on foot. The same applies to rural areas, the awesomeness of this planet can only truly hit home when you're right there looking at it, smelling it, covering yourself in it and wiping it off the sole of your boot. Plus, distance and fatigue almost disappear while nature entertains you. For this reason, I think we can psychologically knock some of those 70 miles off the total.

Having said that, as time has gone by the realisation that what we're undertaking is actually very difficult has sunk in. Seventy miles is a long way to walk at the best of times but in a straight 36-or-whatever hours?! Up and down gradients?! In the company of Grant?! ;) 

Hannibal led elephants over the Alps but can Pete lead us even out of Cheltenham? The training starts here...