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London 2 Brighton 100KM - Alison's Experience

Part of doing the London 2 Brighton 100km challenge was not only to prove to myself I could do it, but to those that doubted me... I needed to prove them wrong.

So...  in a moment of madness whilst out Walking with my husband in May 2015 I asked him how he would feel if I did the London to Brighton Challenge. “Yes,” he said “this is about you being Alison not a wife and Mum”. So after completing  4 MoonWalks quite comfortably I felt that I was ready to push myself a bit further, well a lot further actually from 26.2 to over 60 miles, would I manage it?

I registered a few days later, feeling chuffed that I had set myself a goal. However, the excitement soon turned to disappointment when the reaction from some of my friends and family, took me by surprise, with them saying “you’re mad”, “why would you put yourself through that”, “you’re joking”.  My husband, son and father in law seemed to be the only ones that thought I could do it. So part of the challenge was not only to prove to myself I could do it, but to those that doubted me...  I needed to prove them wrong.

As we own a dog, Walking never stops for me, so coping with the training plan shouldn’t have been a problem... or so I thought! I printed off the training plan so I could get a rough of idea of what I needed to do. I have to say I was really shocked, not only did I need to Walk but it was suggested that I swam, did Pilates, exercise bike and cross trainers. How on earth would I fit all that in along with working and looking after my family and home?

My journey began in early January

having purchased walking boots, waterproofs, head torch (for night training) and various other bits of equipment. I admit early on in the training I was stressing that if the plan said I needed to walk 8 miles that I HAD to do 8 miles exactly. My hubby said that it’s only a guide, so I decided that if I could follow the plan each week I would but if other things were happening then not to worry.

I started training with my friend that I had done the previous two MoonWalks with, as she was planning on doing her 3rd and we decided that she would support me all she could. Once the miles started to creep up I would Walk the additional miles that my training plan required, then I would meet her and we finished together, ending up at my house with breakfast or lunch in some cases being cooked by my husband. This plan was working well, until she announced that she was having her varicose veins done early April and not only wouldn’t be training but also not doing the MoonWalk. “Oh no” I thought “who will I train with now?”

My husband very gallantly stepped up, “I’ll join you” he said, this is the man that hates Walking even though we have a dog. So in March we hopped on a ferry to the Isle of Wight to stay with friends and set about walking it. A very impressive 1st walk of 17 miles, 2 lots of tea and cakes stops and amazing views. I will admit that this was the 1st time for me walking up hills, we don’t have too many in Leicestershire so it was excellent practise. I think changing the position of your body during a long Walk helps your posture, well it does me anyway. So after five days there, we managed an amazing 50 miles!

Back home and back to the training.

Walks during the evening to test out the head torch were such a good idea. I had never worn one before so getting the position right before the big night was vital. The only downside was every time I turned to speak to hubby I blinded him!

Even though my husband doesn’t like Walking he purchased Ordnance Survey maps for our local area in order to do a different Big Walk every week. They were varied and interesting, which is very important to keep the motivation up! Early April was approaching as we decided that it was time to walk 23 miles, a little early in the training schedule but we wanted to take advantage of the good weather. So off we went to Walk from our home to Stamford. Again coffee, sandwich and cake around 15 miles gave us the momentum to carry on as we need to be at the train station for 18.05 as there wasn’t another for an hour. We made it and felt chuffed with ourselves... particularly hubby as this was the furthest he had ever walked! When we got home I checked my app to check out speed etc, we had been walking between 15-17 minutes a mile, not bad but then the last mile was 14.07... we were determined to get that train!

I had 3 weeks of Walking by myself joined in part by Lili (our Border Collie).

It went well, as for the first time I could set my own pace as I wasn’t having to worry about anyone else. It felt good but strange. The loneliness was a struggle, you find yourself talking to animals and to yourself! Support was still there from my hubby, as I would Walk from home in a circuit back to home, eat, pick up the dog, then off I went! Before I knew it, it was the 7th May and the Big Training day of 35 miles was here. This would be a serious test as to whether or not I would manage L2B. Well what a fantastic day weather wise we picked. It was glorious. Although we had never experience heat quite like this before. The camel pack that I had invested in did the trick. With a couple of stops at some local pubs for soda water and lime and a cup of tea, we stormed it! Completed in 10 hours, brilliant! Only The MoonWalk London the following weekend and that’s it.

Have I done enough I thought?

Should I have done more?  So many questions!

So it was finally MoonWalk day, the 1st time of completing it by myself. I managed to tag along whilst waiting for the gates to open with a group of ladies, this made the hanging around much easier. I sat myself next to the Walkers Hub and introduced myself to ladies that I had been talking to on Facebook... what I would done without that social network site, I don’t know. I completed The MoonWalk! Anyway... now I was counting down the days to L2B. Well, my emotions were all over the place... tearful, nervous and constantly doubting my abilities. All apparently normal.

The day came the nerves kicked in and I was beside myself!

Said my goodbyes to hubby, just after 7am and went to join the team that I felt I knew but have never met! I was asked if I had a time in my mind – I had but again after seeing and hearing comments that most people take between 24-26 hours, I was doubting that I could achieve this. After a quick but valuable warm up we were off! I teamed up with a couple of ladies from our group. We were brimming with excitement as all of our training was now being put to the test and what a test it was! There was a lot of talking but also a lot of silence we were focused on each rest stop, as it was another one ticked off. Each stop was around 10 minutes for the mid stops but longer at the main stops, so that we could change strapping on our heavily strapped feet and put on fresh socks. I would never have done this but a lady in our group had done it before. This would be my top tip as feet felt fresh and ready to go!

The time and miles seem to fly by... we are on a roll.

After a longer stop just over half way, the day became night and the challenge became real. Watching where you stepped was constant, it was uneven so walking became slower, but thanks to a group of men that we teamed up with they got us through to 88km. There had been two words throughout my training and on the day itself that were filling me with panic – Ditchling Beacon! My hubby had called to say that he had driven up after dropping me and only managed 3rd gear, aargh I thought, there wasn’t another way round. So 2km’s after we left we saw it... gosh, it was massive! We discussed our plan of attack, if one of us stopped we would all stop. Well to my surprise we did it, without stopping. I won’t lie it’s a tough one.

So that’s it... my journey, my challenge.

I had completed L2B in the time that I wanted to - around 20 hours. So where to next? Well, I’ve already got a place for The MoonWalk London 2017, have registered interest for L2B (although not told hubby) and Isle of Wight. Even though I said all the way through – never again.

One final note – the team from Walk the Walk are amazing. The support you gave us all was outstanding. Somehow knowing when our low points would be leading up to the big day– the Wednesday before I began doubting myself and then an email from you popped up saying it was normal. The tunnel of love was lovely as were the hugs. I particularly enjoyed finding you all in a field cheering us on, brilliant!

See you in 2017

Alison

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