Saturday, 30 April 2011

The new man in charge

Hello. This is David (Katy's husband) posting. I'm going to be looking after this blog and Katy's twitter account for the next couple of days whilst she's undertaking her walk. I'll be posting updates and information about how things are going and, if I can figure out how to do it, I'll also post some photos as well. If you're going to be joining Katy for any part of her walk, feel free to take photos and send them in to

Good luck Katy!


TOTY: Number One

Number One: When everyone rallied round
I've been really touched by everyone offering their help and their feet to tomorrow's walking effort. That's got to be the ultimate highlight of this year.

My house, and my belly, are full and I'm just making final preparations for the day (er, days) ahead. I'm very excited, but rather nervous.

I can't wait until I get to see some of you there, but even if you can't join me I would like to thank you for your support. Every kind word, every pound donated, has made the whole experience so wonderful. Thank you.

Right, where are my trainers?

Friday, 29 April 2011

TOTY: Number Two

It's the night before the night before. I'm already super-nervous, and once again I'm reflecting on the past year to avoid thinking about Sunday. This highlight is a happy by-product of this Challenge and of writing this blog. I've really enjoyed this part, so thanks for listening.

Number Two: The bit where I got to share my dad with you
Maybe it was a bit self indulgent of me to start posting pictures of Dad on holiday and necklaces he had made me, but as I found myself thinking about him as I walked it seemed natural to write about him afterwards.

Of course, I didn't really think about people paying attention to my whitterings. I was just jotting them down as they came to me.

But then a pair of my Dad's socks were put in a cabinet in one of my favourite museums and suddenly it felt like I was having a chat with more than just myself.

Our special socks in the Things exhibition, Wellcome Collection

So, as I haven't shared anything for a while, I thought I'd let you see one of my most treasured posessions.

The Golden Gift Book

This is my Dad's copy of The Golden Gift Book, a collection of stories that he read when he was a boy and used to read to me when I was little. Some of the stories are utterly fantastic. My favourite was The Cockatoucan - the story of a bird that turned a kingdom upside down every time it laughed.

The Cockatoucan - Golden Gift BookThe king in his butcher's shop - Golden Gift Book
You can see that Dad enjoyed this story too - he's coloured in the pictures

I think my favourite reversal in the story was when the palace was turned into a butcher's shop, and the king 'who was too wise to fight against fate, had tucked up his royal robes and was busy in the shop weighing out six ounces of the best mutton chops'. There is also a fantastic moment when the king is turned into a villa residence.

Anyway, the part of this book that I really love now is the bookplate in the front.

My dad's nameplace - Golden Gift Book

Dad gave me this book (and its sister, Princess Mary's Gift Book) shortly before he died. I will always treasure it, and I hope that one day I will get to read the stories to someone who is just as captivated as I was.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

TOTY: Number Three

This happened before TOTY Four, but it was an incredibly important turning point for me and taught me a very valuable lesson.

Number Three: The day when I learnt it's not pain, it's 'discomfort'.
My first time crossing the 20 mile barrier was a painful, sorry, uncomfortable one. It was a hot day at the end of August and once again I was planning to walk along Regent's Canal.

I'd already had problems with Regent's Canal when my legs starting hurting on that particular stretch during a training walk in July. And it reared up as my enemy again in September and then once more in March (I avoid the whole area now), but it was during August that I learnt to just keep going. I imagine that this spirit will probably make the difference between success and failure on Sunday/Monday, so I'm glad I learnt it early.

Boat cat!
I'm not posting a picture of Regent's Canal, because I hate it.
Have a picture of a cat on a boat on the River Lee instead.

TOTY: Number Four

Somewhat delayed, thanks to a technical fail which saw my email fall over, here's Number Four in my Top of the Year rundown.

Number Four: When 22.5 miles was a breeze. And then I broke my toe.
I knew I was tempting fate when I jogged back from the bus stop after that 22.5 mile walk to make sure that I got to the gig on time. But I didn't know that fate would hold out until later that evening and then grab that temptation with both hands.

The toe break (my first broken bone) took me out of action for a while, but could have been a lot worse. In fact I only got an x-ray because the doctor I saw thought it could be a very messy dislocation or fracture of the joint itself (yes, the toe was out at a very special angle).

No further breaks so far, and I've been careful when placing postcards in other people's beds since then. Better to be safe than sorry!

Surprised best friend and howling self not pictured.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

TOTY: Number Five

In these final few days before the walk, I'm finding myself doing little walking and lots of thinking. Reflecting on the past year there are a number of moments that really stand out for me. I thought that I would share them with you in the form of a Top of the Year Top Five.

Number Five: When 12 miles was a really long way.
Although I had mitigating circumstances (I was suffering from a severe flare-up of RSI in my wrist) a 12 mile walk from my house in Lewisham to a BBQ at my friends' house in Hampstead took a ridiculously long time. When I arrived I was hot, pink and very very sleepy. In fact, it wasn't long after I arrived that I took a nap on their sofa and my husband tried to stick a sausage in my ear (not a euphemism).

Thankfully things have gotten easier since then.

Husband and sausage not pictured
Photo taken by my lovely friend Carla

Monday, 25 April 2011

One week to go...

This time next week I will be hopefully be finishing the biggest journey of my life.

At the moment I've been far too busy organising all the extra arrangements to make it go smoothly to get too nervous (except when I'm asleep - I'm still having those dreams) but I'm sure I'll be shaking as we set off.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me get this far: all the support, offers of help and, of course, donations have reminded me why I'm doing this and given me a boost whenever I've doubted myself. Here's to next week!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A bit of a breather. And some runners.

Hello! Before I get into this post, I've got a little bit of walk business to attend to.

By now everyone who was interested in walking with me should have received an email with walk timings. If you didn't and you're interested in joining, or you know someone else who would like to ramble with me, leave a message here for me and I'll pass the details on.

It's now just 10 days to the walk and the nerves are starting to set in. I'm finding myself waking up in the middle of the night worrying about little details just as much as big problems. My favourite theme seems to be anxiety dreams about finding locked toilets. Or searching out a secluded spot for a wee only to find someone peering out of a window. Disturbing.

Anyway, that wasn't really what I wanted to write a post about (I really don't think you need to hear about my imagined bladder concerns, but oh look, you have now). I really wanted to talk about these two:

Clairey and Lizzy on mile 18 of the marathon

Clairey and Lizzy ran the London marathon on Sunday and I went along as part of a little cheer leading squad. For Lizzy (handily marked out by having her name written on her chest) this was a first time marathon, for Clairey (similar handy markings) the second in 8 days.

Both did wonderfully at something that I can't even imagine doing. Honestly, for all the anxiety dreams and bitten nails that this walk has prompted, the mere thought of running a couple of miles (let alone 26.2 miles) sets off the tremors.

Anyway, I'm very pleased that Clairey will be joining me for a few sections of the walk next weekend, and hopefully Lizzy will be able to pop by for a little bit too. Maybe I can steal some of their stamina!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Behind as usual.

In an attempt to organise myself ready for the walk, I've spent this afternoon turning the big map on my wall into a giant clock.

The map turns into a huge clock...

It's now divided up into sections of 3.1 miles - which is about the average distance I need to do in an hour to get me round the whole thing in 24 hours. It turned out that the route I've plotted is actually 74.56 miles.

From this I can now start letting my lovely volunteers know the approximate time and place that they will be able to find me. If you've volunteered, I'll be in touch in the next day or so to check in with you about this.

All of this should have been done long ago, but I'm pleased that it so far seems to be falling into place fairly simply.

Funny, I thought the walking would be the hardest part.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Preparing for the distance.

If there's one thing this last week has taught me, it's to get my injuries checked as soon as something feels wrong.

Thanks to some really great help and advice (and just a little sore-making massage) from Emma, my physiotherapist of the last week, I'm back up on my feet again. The good news is that it only appears as though I did a bit of muscle damage and caused a possible flare-up of bursitis.

So I've been packed off with some great new calf stretches, an instruction to gradually build up the walking again*, and the advice to carry cool packs with me in case I get a flare up of the bursitis. Tonight I started buying stocks of what I think will probably become one of my best friends once 1st May rolls around. Mmm...chilly...

Ahh...Deep Freeze...

* Er, obviously just in time for me to gradually wind the training down.

Monday, 11 April 2011

New lifestyle.

Just a quick update from my lunch break, but not really a walking one as I had a rare weekend break after the physiotherapist told me to take it easy last Wednesday.

Perfect weekend

Once I'd shaken off the 'Oh! I'm not training!' guilt, I started to really enjoy lazing about in the early summer sunshine. I had a short cycle to my favourite butchers in Greenwich and then David and I had a little barbecue when I got back. We then set to an afternoon in the company of a couple of beers and nattered in the sunshine. For the first half of Sunday I did little more than read a book whilst lying luxuriously on my lawn. Absolute bliss.

Of course we did do a little walking, but in truly lazy weekend style meandering through one of our local parks in the early evening. I'd totally forgotten what one of these weekends could be like.

Tonight I have my follow-up appointment with my physiotherapist. My knee has eased (and the swelling has gone down) but I'm still getting a quite irritating muscle ache. Hopefully there will be some handy suggestions on how to minimise this and hopefully I'll be able to get back into proper training soon (er, just in time to tone it down in time for the real thing).

I'm going to have a hard time giving up this lifestyle though, even if I've only had one weekend of it.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Professional verdict...

I had my first physio appointment this evening to try and figure out what happened to my leg on Monday and what I can do to keep me walking in May.

The good news is that at this early stage it doesn't look like I've done any tendon damage. What we appear to be looking at right now is some overworked muscles and possibly a touch of bursitis (that's a swollen knee thanks to a collection of fluid to you and me).

So I've been sent away until next Monday to take it easy ('you know, don't walk 20 miles') and ice and elevate my leg where possible. Should be back up and walking in no time. Which is just as good, because there's only 24 days left to go. Oof!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

When miles matter, and when they don't: accidental training and those final few miles

A few weeks ago I ended up on a train to rural Kent for a work meeting. The nearest station was about 4 miles away from the venue, so I had some cash ready for a cab.

When I hopped off the train, there were no taxis at the station. I called one cab company, and they said they couldn't be with me for at least an hour. I now had a choice: sit on my own at the station for an hour, or start walking.

So I started walking. In my flat boots (comfy, but not padded enough to be choice walking shoes) and winter coat (it was in that first week of Spring weather so the coat was mainly carried) it was a rather lazy walk. But it was really lovely and the 4 miles sped by.

So did the meeting, and before long I was in need of another taxi back up to the station. This time I was told there would an hour and a half wait. Well, I think you know what I did.

By the end of the day, I'd racked up 8 miles without really thinking or caring about it. Accidental training - 4 miles, then 8 miles, was met with a shrug of my shoulders. Nothing to worry about.

Now I'm finding myself obsessing about those extra few miles. Those blue dots I posted about at the end of last month were dividing the map up into handy one hour mileage targets. The targets were based on the average speed I would need to travel to complete the walk in time, but knowing about a possible discrepancy in the published distance of the Capital Ring, I worked it out from the maximum distance I could find. That was 82 miles.

Only now it appears that I'll actually be walking less than this, probably even less than the 78 miles, I'm still working this out. It may only be a few miles less, but a few miles will make a huge difference to the average speed I need to go at and could make the difference between comfort and discomfort.

So now I'm working to confirm my route and confirm my mileage. Part of me wants to find out that it's a full 78 miles. The other part would be happy for a reprieve of 4 miles or so. That may be the Ibuprofen talking.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Monday Marathon Misery.

Hello all! I had a wonderful weekend of spending time with my Mum and Gran and generous donations and generally feeling really awesomely positive about the walk. I still felt the same way when I started off on my training this morning.

I walked 24.5 miles today. I was meant to walk 26 but my left knee failed somewhere around the 18 mile mark. Although I'm feeling much better now, sat on the sofa with hot and cold pads wedged behind my knees, a few hours ago I was sat out at East Finchley feeling as though the world was about to end.

But the thought of all of you wonderful people who believe in me enough to donate your money to my charity will keep me pushing on. Only a few weeks to go now! On the day I think I'll make sure I've got enough Ibuprofen on me to keep me upright...

So, about that sponsorship. I've had a few offline donations, so I just wanted to say thank you to my wonderful Gran, Simpson Hilder Associates, and Clare Harding. I am so overjoyed that we've burst through my target! It would be great to keep going and really break it, so please feel free to spread the word to whoever you can.