A few weeks ago, I found myself signing up to the #Memorywalk for Alzheimer’s Society. A marathon walk in London, in the middle of October, likely to be wet and cold.
At the time I didn’t think too much about the challenge of walking such a distance. I keep myself fairly fit, attend gym classes most days, as well as walking Percy twice a day. The weather however, did concern me!
During one of my gym classes I was sharing my sponsorship details to fellow gym goers. A lady, who was slightly older than me, expressed her pains of walking a half marathon in the middle of the night. She pointed out that the simple everyday life movement of walking was not actually as simple as I had imagined when I agreed to this walk. To walk continuously for 26 miles was going to prove tough on my body – not just my feet.
I had timed myself walking Percy. 1 mile in 15 minutes. I figured if I had no problems and I didn’t stop I could get this walk done in 6.5 hours. After talking to my fellow gym goer, I thought best to add an extra 30/45 minutes to my aim time. And in honestly, I had forgotten to take into account that I would most likely need to stop for a toilet break .. and my friends will tell you, I need those often!
Only giving myself 4 weeks to prepare and train for this walk, I thought best I focus more on raising money, than listening to my gym goer. I continued doing my typical gym classes and only walking when Percy needed to.
The 12th October came, and I had started to worry. Maybe I was wrong to just assume I could walk such a distance without preparation. And of course, the weather was miserable. I had two people with me in my team. Together, we had raised more money than our goal and we certainly raised one another’s optimism throughout this walk.
The #Memorywalk started at Southwark Park, London around 8.20 am.
Walking is hard work
Throughout this walk I saw landmarks of London, I smiled at strangers, I got lost and I moaned…a lot! I was wrong. Walking is hard work. Much harder than I ever dreamed. We each took turns in lows and highs and relied on one another to pull the other along – sometimes literally! We made a plan to stop at only 2 check points and to power on past the others only grabbing the necessary energy fuels. Being outnumbered by men, I lost my vote on the coffee stop. Loosing out on time, which I had come to rely on, left me rather bossy. I demanded the coffee was poured into take away cups so we could get back on our way. Hate to admit it, but the coffee stop was a good call, it was needed.
We finally reached what I thought was the end. The end was actually in Southwark Park, where we started. So, I’m not really sure why I thought we had crossed an imaginary finish line on the Embankment. It was our last check point. 21.8 miles done. With just over 4 miles to go, I hit my mental wall. The pain had been coming and passing in my hips, legs, feet and even my hands. But this was now hell. 4 miles was to far to go. I could clearly see Tower Bridge, but it just kept moving further away. How was this going to end? I had even forgotten how to walk properly.
It’s true what they say. Your mind will give up long before your body does. My body was in pain. My mind was in pain, but I knew I could walk those last 4 miles in an hour. I knew this pain would be over in 1 more hour, I just have to keep going. I was in competition with my body. The 3 of us picked ourselves up and mind over pain conquered.
Finished the #Memorywalk
We crossed that #Memorywalk finish line at 3.28pm. 7 hours and 8 minutes. We were really pleased to have arrived within the top 15 walkers. The pain in my body soon disappeared and I was overwhelmed with pride and joy. Of course, that pain returned Saturday evening and Sunday.
Our small team got through this challenge. Sharing this experience cut the challenge in half. This walk has reminded me that no challenge is too hard if you have the right people with you. No challenge is too small to conquer. A small challenge is still a challenge.
And sometimes its ok to underestimate challenges and be proved wrong – this is how we learn.