On September 1st 2013 I will set out to hike then length of the River Thames from the source in Gloucestershire to the sea at the Thames Barrier in London. I will need to average a marathon every day and be carrying my tent, food clothes and the rest. I am raising money for the charity Shooting Stars.
Sunday, 22 September 2013
Lessons from the River
It has been two weeks since I finished my walk along the Thames, and so I wanted to write a final blog just to
wrap up the whole thing.
As always coming back to work and the normal London life makes any
break from the daily grind seem a lifetime ago all too quickly. There are still
reminders though. My body is almost back to normal but I am still putting ice
on my right shin, and the toenail on my second toe (the little Piggy who
was supposed to stay home...ironically) came off in the shower this morning, which really was revolting. Despite that I’ve been
walking back into work from Thursday last week, and even made it to the gym on
Friday, so all promising signs.
I almost certainly won’t be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon on October
6th however. I saw a physio last weekend and he told me I’d be
insane to do so. Shooting Stars have said they’ll defer my place for a year, so I’ll most likely take that up. They have also confirmed my place in the
London Marathon for 2014, so that’s another reason not to push myself too hard
and risk further injury. I'll be keeping the same sponsorship page open.
So how do I feel about the walk itself? I’m really happy
with it. I’m pleased that I managed to plan a route, choose my stops and reach
every single target. I even exceeded one on day five when I pushed an extra two
miles on from where I planned to stop. I didn’t really know how I’d hold up
when I began, and while physically I was pretty wrecked by the end (and would
never have made it without my good friends nurofen and co-codamol) I was amazed
at how well I held up mentally.
I’d expected the mental side to be really tough. The fact it wasn't speaks volumes for all the support I had along the way, especially from those who joined me, giving me
distractions at times when it would have been easy to slide into negativity.
One of the things I learned about myself was on day three when, after the
horrors of arriving in the dark the night before and setting out on my own for
the first time in an extraordinary amount of pain, I realised after an hour that I was really enjoying myself. It
occurred to me then that actually I am generally quite a positive person.
Funnily enough Sharpey would say the same thing to me a few days later when I
stayed at his place. I’d never really thought of myself as a positive person
before, especially given how shitty things were the week or two before the walk
began, so now I know that I can take a step back when things are tough and
remember it’s not as bad as it might seem.
When I saw the physio and explained what I’d done and the
injuries I had, he asked me why I didn’t just stop and I must have given him
the blankest look in history. Quitting never seriously occurred to me, and that
is a surprise looking back. I’m a bit annoyed that I hopped in a car twice at
the end of a day and had to be returned to the same spot the following morning,
but I knew it was necessary at that stage. We all have limits and
I think the ability to recognise those and react accordingly is pretty
What am I going to take from all this? That anything is
possible with the right attitude. So often in the past I’ve come
up with reasons not to do things – largely doubting my ability to actually do
whatever it might be. Sure life can be scary, but I’m always amazed at what
we’re capable of and I will continue to look for ways to challenge myself and
finding the fulfilment that comes with “daring greatly”
- regardless of whether or not I succeed in whatever the endeavour may be. If
anyone else feels suitably inspired to do the same, then good for you.
To conclude I’ve decided to write up a few things that stick
out from the experience, messages that for one reason or another stood out
along the way, highlights, low points, amusing texts – that sort of thing. I
hope you enjoy:
from random dude on day two and random woman on day four
2.Checking my messages at the end of each day
lost on the way into Abingdon in the dark
day 4 was five miles longer than I though and that I wouldn’t reach camp in
Lock in the rain.
Day three: Abingdon – Pangbourne. Great weather and just a very satisfying day.
Day six: Chertsey – Putney. Rain, wrong turn, not mentally ready. Apologies to Zoe and Katie for being so miserable that day!
Craig Short: "I will donate a further 10 great British pounds
if you post a photo of you doing a forward roll."
Favourite quotes sent
T.S. Eliot: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly
find out how far they can go”
Friedrich Nietzsche: “All truly great thoughts are conceived
Steven Wright: “Everywhere is within walking distance if you
have the time”
Most amusing /
offensive sponsorship messages (there were so many to choose from, I picked
out a Top 5 – in no particular order - but could easily have picked about 50).
Morris: “Your mobility looks hindered - did you really walk all that way or
were you gang banged by Russian Sailors?”
2.Miles & Kate Nathan:
“Well done, I thought I'd wait to the very end before committing to donating.
Hedging my bets! In all seriousness mate well done, you're an inspiration to us
Proclaimers: “Me & my twin walked 500 miles. And then we walked 500 more.
Good effort for this training jolly - let us know if you want to step up to
“Good luck mate, great cause as well. I am not buying 5 copies of this book
“I love Alan Curr so put another dime in the jukebox, baby.”
Most amusing /
offensive text messages* (again, many to choose from but these stood out):
Kirtley: “No evidence to suggest an ice bath has any more benefit than just a
cold bath. That’s from the Head of sport science at Liverpool FC. Compression
socks help though.”
“You’ll get more satisfaction when you look back on this challenge for the fact
it’s been a killer. Enjoy the pain and the fact it’s you on your own pushing it
to the edge. That’s what it’s all about and not everyone gets there, or gets
“Push on through fella, don’t think about the Bum chafe/Gooch rub/Sting
ring...Your legs may be saying kill us now!! You must say – Shut up legs. Do what
I tell you!! It’s epic mental efforts like this that are the measure of
legends. You’re inside the ring! Push hard and drove it to the bridge...Massive
“Perspective mon frère. Abi says shoulder on. I think she means soldier. She
also says fuck you but I think she is talking to me. So fuck me, which is
unlikely as I’m texting you. Good point.”
“Stay positive. Five miles is nothing to you, you can eat five miles for
breakfast, fuck it, you can sweat five miles when you’re taking a shit!!”
*messages from Abi
Hill and Rhonda Williams (among others) were not deemed suitable for
publication due to extreme profanity (yes, even worse than what's above), but were definitely up there with the best.
Finally - thank you one more time to everyone for all your support. You are amazing. At time of writing I've raised a little more than £2800 plus Gift Aid of around £600, which has blown me away.