Monday, 28 June 2010

Battles with heat and temptation.

Cor blimey! London's a bit warm at the moment. And whilst that may be fine for sitting under parasols, drinking Pimm's and watching England being rubbish at sport it's not entirely fun to be out walking in it.

So it was with some reluctance that I marched myself out of the house late yesterday afternoon to walk 14 miles.

I picked up my circular route from which took me from my home in Lewisham, up through Greenwich, under the Thames at the Greenwich foot tunnel, through the Isle of Dogs and onto the Thames path at Westferry. Then along the Thames path to Tower Bridge where I crossed the river once more and doubled back to go east on the southern Thames path to Rotherhithe. Then back towards home through Surrey Quays, New Cross and a tiny corner of Ladywell.

It was no where near as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, OK, so I was pretty pink and ridiculous looking and I could see my knee muscles twitching in the last couple of miles but it was fine. Utterly uneventful, really. I managed to complete it in 3 hours and 50 minutes, which isn't too shabby.

The only bad part of the walk was stepping off Tower Bridge to find a Pimm's stall and a tapas festival directly in front of me and knowing that I still had to walk to Lewisham. WOE!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

First milestone.

I've now walked over 100 training miles since I announced this project. That seems to equate to somewhere around 29 hours of my life which, I guess, is rather a lot in two short months.
EDIT: Actually, it turns out that this was only from when I started specifically training for the marathon in September, so that's just since 17th May! Go me!

Last week my training took a bit of a kicker when my iPod went missing from work. I had been using music as a pace keeper and various podcasts as a way of giving my mind something to concentrate on when walking familiar paths.

But losing the music has opened my eyes to what's around me.

This last week I've taken the training slowly so that I can stop and look at my surroundings. Two of my regular short walks follow well-trodden tourist paths, passing some of the most famous views in London, so I've started off by photographing those. The few pictures below are from my walks from Covent Garden to Limehouse and Covent Garden to Canada Water.

Lovely sunny ThamesPub on the Thames, decked out for the World CupThe Globe TheatreTower Bridge and City Hall
(I've put the rest of my pictures from these walks in my Ward Walks London folder over at Flickr.)
I've started noticing smaller, less noticed things too. I think I'll take the time to stop and photograph them in future and add them to my building picture of London.
I guess I'm lucky to live in a city so many people travel across the world to see. I should remember that every time I'm tempted to tut as I pass a group of slow moving tourists. But I'm not promising that I will.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Something was missed...

So, apparently it was Fathers' day yesterday. I don't think I ever really celebrated it when I was growing up (sorry Dad, you missed out on years of crappy homemade presents!) and, of course, I don't really observe it now. But I thought that I'd make a little Dad post for today to acknowledge it.
I reckon every kid goes through a stage where they're fascinated by ancient Egypt. Whether it's the gruesome mummification process or the awesome architecture that provokes interest, I reckon it always surfaces at some point.

My fascination seemed to go on longer than most. I was given books about Egypt, and taken on trips to museums to see exhibits about Egypt. I practiced writing my name in hieroglyphs and I remember asking my Dad to make me an ankh several times. My own crafts were predominately Egypt flavoured, including a board game based on the afterlife and a foam headed stick puppet of Tutankhamun. As you can see I was fairly solidly obsessed for a good number of years, even thinking that I might like to be an Egyptologist at the point I went to secondary school. This faded pretty quickly after my interests rather dramatically widened.

Some years after the main appeal had subsided, Dad and I visited Egypt together. It was the year 2000 and I was an awkward 17 year old who was not dealing well with the heat. But the trip was still incredible. I keep meaning to dig out old photos from the time where Dad is dressed like an archeologist from the 1920s. Not a costume, just the way he liked to dress on holiday.

After the Egypt holiday, although I can't quite remember when, Dad gave me a little blue plastic jewellery box, with the pixelated image of an Egyptian woman stuck to the front (I know Mum must have helped with that bit, he had no idea how to work a computer). On opening the case I found this:

My lovely ankh

It was the ankh I had asked for all those years previously! Carved out of a piece of mahogany and wrapped with silver wire, it's beautifully simple.

This didn't come out of the box very often for some time after I was given it, but I've been wearing this necklace quite a lot recently. It reminds me of Dad's enormous creativity, and the shear surprise I felt on opening the box. I like to imagine him working away on it in the garage, chuckling to himself over how long it had taken to get around to making it. I hope he knew just how much I adored both the sentiment and the necklace itself.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

It's been one of those weeks...

This week I've learned just how much you use your arms in walking and how a seemingly unrelated injury can set you back when it comes to training.

At the beginning of last week I had a bit of an achy wrist from too much gardening. By the end of the week I had been told that I'd damaged the tendons in my arm and should avoid using it for two to three weeks or risk serious damage.

Not using your primary arm for any length of time is a pretty big task, I think, but I've been trying really hard to limit my movement. Yes, this is all being typed left handed. It's tricky, but I didn't think it would be more trouble than that.

So setting off on my 12 mile walk on Sunday I was resolute that I'd finish it in stonkingly good time, full of energy and triumphant.

It didn't quite go like that of course. Shortly after setting off I noticed that it was hard to keep my arm from swinging along by my side as I took each step. Then I needed to adjust my rucksack which, of course, I couldn't do without using my right hand. Then as the walk continued my hands began to swell. This always happens in heat, but this time I couldn't really do the flexing exercises I usually do to get rid of it and this time I noticed that my wrist had begun to swell as well. It was pretty hard to ignore.

Towards the end of the walk my concentration went for a wander and so did I, getting hopelessly confused and having to retrace my steps. I finally finished tired and late.

The wrist distracted me and it slowed me down. But I'm warning it, that better be the last time it does.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Enemies of the Kate #1

(sorry for the terrible pun...I tried to resist...honest...)

I've noticed that there are quite a few barriers out there to halt or slow my training. Some of them are mental, some of them are physical, all of them are annoying.

I've already spoken about trying to find the time to do all this walking, which I believe will always be an issue, but the number one enemy for me at the moment is the weather.

We've been enjoying some staggeringly beautiful but hot days here in London recently, although I've joyously heard that we've got rain on the way this week. I'm not one for heat unless I have the luxury of doing absolutely nothing in it. For those who are uncertain, absolutely nothing does not include a fast 4 mile walk. It doesn't include a fast 8 mile walk either.

Still, I have to do them, so off I go with my flask of water and my sense of purpose and I march along in the sunshine getting hotter, sweatier and pinker as I go. My recent walks have been along the Thames, so I'm often half blinded by the sun bouncing off the water and filled with quiet annoyance that I'm not one of the hundreds of people I pass enjoying their evenings out of work. Or excitedly pointing out landmarks and having their photos taken. Or sitting outside a pub with a nice pint. I think that last one stings the most.

Honestly, the only thing that keeps me going is a sense of stubbornness that I'm not going to let myself get to next year's walk entirely under prepared. I'm hoping complete my first marathon in September, which will probably be the first time I'll get to find out whether I've overstretched myself or not. I think for now I have to try not to worry about that and just push on. Even if that bench is looking particularly inviting...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Over half way around the Capital.

David and I used Sunday as an opportunity to walk the next two legs of the Capital Ring: Richmond Bridge to Osterley Lock and Osterley Lock to Greenford.

Both stretches wind alongside rivers and the canal and have very few roadside stretches. Rather picturesque, really. We picked a lovely day for it and the sun shone down on us the whole way. Getting to Greenford, the end of Walk Eight, means that we've gone more than half way round the ring.

Gallows Bridge over the Grand Union Canal - the end of section seven of the Capital Ring Richmond Lock closing times are suddenly important to me...
You can see my other photos from the day as part of my Capital Ring collection on Flickr.

Of course, now that I've announced next year's challenge, these walks have a slightly more serious intent. I'm now looking for obstacles, park closing times and bad surfaces. I'm weighing up how long I reckon it'll take to walk it and whether it would be OK to walk it at night. And I'm not even heading out for the walk until I've managed to fit the mileage into my training schedule.

It's still enjoyable, but it reminds me just how much there is to organise.