Just Walk 2009: Sometimes I push too hard

Just Walk 2009: Sometimes I push too hard

Just Walk is a great ‘little event’ organised by Across the Divide. You give them some money and they let you walk around the Sussex countryside for either 20km, 40km or 60km – and they feed you! It is up to you to raise money for charity and there is no minimum fee to raise.

Donating and raising money for charity is something I think is important – I am lucky enough to live the life I live – but I do find the targets are sometimes a little on the demanding side. That’s why I think Just Walk is such a brilliant idea. The thing that makes me shy about hassling my friends and family for charity money is that I enjoy the challenge of walking 60km and would do it for my own personal rewards as readily as I would do it to raise money for a charity.

Just Walk 2009 saw Jules, Temo and me walk 60km in 11 hours 58 minutes. I was absolutely delighted with the result.

I use (and yes, it is usually me clutching it) Jules’ Garmin GPS for pacing as these sort of events have the routes well marked out and we did a brilliant job of staying on target for our 12 hours.

I was completely elated.

Then I fainted.

The medics ‘hussled’ but I just couldn’t sort myself out enough to get off the ground. I was freezing cold and, after about an hour I talked them into letting me crawl (literally) into my mother’s car, still wrapped in the space blanket and we drove back to Brighton with the heating on full. By the time we got to my mother’s flat I was pretty much recovered.

Whenever I do an event which pushes my limits a bit I do find that my body temperature drops really rapidly when I stop. For this reason I had my mother loaded up with lots of warm clothes to greet me with but, in the post-event analysis, we decided that I had drunk too much water without replacing electrolytes.

Still, 60km in 11 hours 58 minutes, what a great result.

Just Walk 2010: A training walk

Just Walk 2010: A training walk

This year, Pete, Jules and I are going to walk Trailwalker 2010 so we decided that we should do the Just Walk 60km event for training.

My main objective was to get to the end and not faint (like at the end of Just Walk 2009!), my second target was to try and avoid having horribly swollen hands (which seems to happen to me after about 20km) and thirdly, Jules and I really wanted to beat our time from last year. 60km in under 12 hours is excellent but we both secretly thought that without Temo (who is very new at this sort of thing) we would easily knock an hour off our time.

1) Avoiding fainting

Remembering that we had decided that the fainting was caused by too much water and not enough electrolytes I did some reading and some talking and some shopping and was armed with a whole variety of powders to put in my drinks and those sports jelly beans. I like sports beans – I used them on one (of the 3) Dunwich Dynamos I did and they are remarkably good at giving you a little kick and you only need to pop a couple at a time. Electrolytes? Check.

2) Swollen hands

I may have mentioned this elsewhere but I have a bit of a dodgy back so, when I went to Mount Everest Basecamp in December 2009 I decided to take walking sticks with me. My plan was that if my back had gone into spasm or my sciatica had started playing up I would have been able to haul myself around with two walking sticks. (As it happens, Nick and I used one each on that trek but that is a different story.) Using walking poles does stop my hands swelling up and it balances the weight better so my lower back seems to stay pain free for longer. Result.

3) Target time

We did the walk in 11 hours 25 minutes (or near enough). Jules and I had hoped for a better result so were disappointed which was a little annoying as the time is nothing to be ashamed of.

How did it go?

Nick came to pick me up this time (my mother actually refused: “Do it, but I am not coming to watch you collapse again!”) and I bundled myself into the car as quickly as possible – no dawdling, no fainting.

I had really bad blisters, particularly on my little toes; by some unpleasant chance I had blisters that went all round my little toes in a sort of cylindrical cushion. Not nice. A couple of weeks later my toe nails fell off, for the first time in my life, which rather inhibited my sandal wearing for the summer!

My boots have done some pretty impressive distances with me so I am very loathe to blame them for the blisters. My feet had swollen up quite badly and I think that was the main cause of the trouble. I realise that this might sound a little amateur but I blame the amount of sugar in all those electrolyte powders. For Trailwalker I am going to try and find some sugar free ones or use basic dioralyte – I think I can separate nutrition and salts. We shall see.