Sally’s SunWalk – The Longest 10k!

Crossing the line seemed such an achievement, and I really felt like I’d earned my medal. The best surprise? I was keeping to 15 minute mile pace all the time & completed the 10k in an hour and a half!

One of our walkers completed the SunWalk London, here’s her story.

Let me explain myself – in 2012, I was retiring from a job id been doing for 30 years, and I decided that I’d got the ideal opportunity to complete a personal Walk The Walk Challenge. I was going to walk the Atlantic – completing the London MoonWalk and The New York Marathon.

Well, London went smoothly, training continued throughout the summer. And we all know what happened in New York – the marathon was cancelled following Superstorm Sandy. I thought my luck was changing at JFK on the way home when we got a free upgrade to business class (hurray BA).

It seems I was right. Unfortunately, not in a good way.

On Remembrance Sunday, I went to a service with other friends from my motorbike club, and on the way home I came off my bike.  An ambulance ride followed, some painful prodding and x raying, and a bit more prodding for good measure. Result? I’d broken my right tibia (the large shin bone) just at the tibial plateau, where it supports the whole knee joint. That had to be fixed with surgery the next day.

5 days later I left hospital with a permanent plate and pins down my right shin, a thigh to ankle hinged knee brace and crutches, high as a kite on pain relief. I wasn’t allowed to put any weight on my right foot. I lived and slept the next few weeks in my living room, until I managed to cope with stairs again. My poor husband Harry slept downstairs all the time I was stuck there, just in case. They were long days filled with daytime tv. I honestly thought my Moonwalking days may be over at that time.

I was surprised at how soon I improved – I started physio just after Christmas, and was discharged by the orthopaedic team and was back at work by early February. I thought at this stage “Well, no walking in 2013, give my sponsors a rest, and get back to it next year” By March that had changed to “I want to exercise properly” and by April to “I’m doing the SunWalk”

I can’t pretend that training was the easiest I’ve ever done. Because of the injury, my gait was different. Things hurt that never hurt before. I didn’t realise the tops of my toes could be so painful. Hills? Forget it! I was so unfit with wobbly bits where I used to have leg muscles. But I persevered. Just a mile or so at first, then a bit more and a bit more.

By May, I was combining 2 Zumba classes a week with walking and really feeling the benefit, even if I couldn’t quite fling myself around as much as pre-injury. I felt a little twinge of sadness on London Moonwalk night, wishing I could be there. By the time Edinburgh came around, I was beginning to think “It’ll soon be my turn!”

SunWalk weekend finally arrived. Harry and I had decided to make a long weekend of it, getting to London on Friday afternoon, the Globe Theatre that evening (highly recommended!), some sightseeing on Saturday, and a nice meal on Saturday night.

We’d got accommodation on Battersea Park Road, so on Sunday morning, all we had to do was to finish packing, get me suitable dressed and stroll through the Park, following the steady stream of bra t shirts to the Sunwalk Village. It was lovely to see some familiar faces from previous walks (especially Lucy and Ali who’d been to New York), Facebook friends and Abi and Steph from WTW, who’d been through the disappointment of New York with us all.

This was my first SunWalk, so it felt a bit odd to be out in such hot sunny weather, covered in factor 50! Harry soon found himself a place to relax the day away (next to the bacon butty shop) and settled in for the morning. The familiar things I associate with Moonwalking happened – I found the minute’s silence incredibly poignant this year because a friend is very much involved in her personal battle with breast cancer at the moment, and only days before our London trip, I’d been to the funeral of a friend’s wife, who lost her fight. She was younger than me. Her funeral was the day before what would have been her wedding anniversary. This year, it was personal. I was going to do my 10k and do it the best I could.

Ali and I found ourselves together for the first part of the walk, but got separated at some stage. No matter, Runkeeper was telling me how I was doing, and my music was on (but not so loud that I couldn’t hear encouragement from the incredible volunteers). I have to say that the people of Chelsea and Fulham are a stoical bunch. They never seemed to bat an eyelid at the variety of bra clad walkers dodging around them as they browsed the Sunday shops!

It didn’t seem long till I was crossing back over the Thames and heading into the Park. Thank you to the lady providing sweets and hugs at the entrance – what a welcome!

Crossing the line seemed such an achievement, and I really felt like I’d earned my medal. The best surprise? I was keeping to 15 minute mile pace all the time & completed the 10k in an hour and a half!

 My biggest supporter, Harry, was waiting with a huge hug and food. I really earned that pancake! We had plenty of time to spend enjoying all the entertainment going on, especially the Strictly people running their dance sessions. Harry chatted with families who were new to Walk the Walk, who’d come as a result of seeing the banners outside the park. They loved the whole day and I’m sure there are more potential walkers just waiting for next year’s dates to be revealed as a result.

And as for me? I’ve got my mojo back! I can still walk, I can still make a difference, and I’ve registered my interest for some of next year’s events. And I’m saving up as much as I can, because don’t forget that I still have unfinished business with you, New York.



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