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Training Journey for The MoonWalk Iceland

The sense you are all in it together is overwhelming and you go from polite introductions to full on tears and hugs with this gang in 48 hours!

My Training Journey for The MoonWalk Iceland

24th February 2016. That was THE day. The day that changed the course of 2016 for me and getting a little deep and meaningful, changed me as a person forever. I didn’t win the lottery or get offered the job of my dreams.. no, it was very much your average dreary February Wednesday morning guiltily watching Phil and Holly when I got an email from Kate at Walk the Walk telling me I was at the top of the waiting list for The MoonWalk Iceland in June and a couple of places had come up so would I like to go….oh and you have 24 hours to decide!

First reaction -" Is this a wind up?" (Then I vaguely remembered playing on their website back in September…) "This is madness- I've got bad knees; I can’t walk that far and MIDNIGHT WALKING! Are you mental?; I need my sleep!; who’ll look after the three children when I just exit stage right for 5 days?; I am not one of those “out there” people who do these things- I’m too shy; I can't spend that much money on a trip for myself - the window in the bathroom needs replacing…."

Then after about an hour the "maybe- I- could" thoughts started eating away at me….”It’s fate - you are TOP OF THE WAITING LIST- you are meant to do this. Don’t you think it will be incredible - I mean ICELAND - all those waterfalls and ponies …., you did the Ribbon Walk a few years ago - you could do it Mary if you put your mind to it…., why not me - they can’t all be superhuman - some of them must be as unfit as me…I can raise money for BreastCancer and do it for my dear friend Debbie who lost her battle 7 years ago - what would she give to be here now… Tell Mr F the window can wait…."

And that was that. I sort of asked/told the other half that was the plan and I was in!

Next I had 22 hours to see if a friend wanted to come and put the story out to my mates on Facebook and am delighted to report my friend Alison was as impetuous as me and we were in.

Joining late in the day wasn’t a problem at all as the official week by week training programme hadn’t started yet and we had the time to prepare from a pretty poor starting point. Both of us were a few stone overweight and most walks of a few hundred metres uphill had us both out of breath so it was pretty daunting to imagine even getting to 5 miles let alone walking a marathon in one go.

The fear of failure was a big driving factor to embrace the training programme and we convinced ourselves that if we did the miles and followed the plan as best we could then we would give ourselves the best chance of making it. I then came up with another plan to try and ensure the greatest likelihood of actually following the plan through and that was to invite more or less everyone I knew locally to join in the training Walks with me. This was my masterstroke and undoubted saviour too. I sent a weekly email to all my contacts telling them of my future training Walks, sending photos of the training Walks from the previous week and an anecdote or two from the adventure as well of course the donation details. ….. soon the Walks were a social event with lunch and over 20 different friends joined me at some stage. The money rolled in and I was so proud of myself - I was making this happen and I even began to feel like a Walker.

For anyone who ever feels a bit low, especially in the gloomy winter months, Walking really did have an uplifting effect and I defy anyone to dispute that. Setting small goals for yourself and achieving them is also a powerful positivity tool. I would highlight too the Walking was largely a device for free time for me (just used a walking app to stop getting lost!) and time for yourself away from pinging emails/facebook/phonecalls is very healthy and calming for personal wellbeing.

I made it a goal to try and Walk as many different Walks as possible whilst training to get to know the area better where I live (East Kent) and I can truly say having discovered miles and miles I had never seen before. I appreciate our beautiful country and its wildlife so much more than I ever did before. I made new friends, got to know some old friends so much better and I improved my physical and mental health health immensely. I purchased lycra (!), wore t shirts around town with a bright pink bra on extremely proudly and stopped feeling like all the achievements in my household were my childrens. I was doing this for a great cause and I was doing this for me.

The actual trip itself was everything and more than everyone says it will be. It is obvious but worth saying the other Walkers are just regular people like you and me - warts and all…I am quite shy but can honestly say the small group on the trip is just the right number to allow you to chat and build friendships. The sense you are all in it together is overwhelming and you go from polite introductions to full on tears and hugs with this gang in 48 hours! Our group as a whole is still in contact online and I’m sure many will be friends forever. The support team at WTW are superb - seasoned pros with these trips so the timetable though very packed was slick and extremely well thought out. They are always there for you throughout the training at the end of the phone/email and on the trip with sweets, patience and singing if required or not!

At first I thought I was going to tell you that receiving that finishers medal in Iceland was my greatest achievement this year, but recently something changed my mind. I watched an old favourite film a few days ago, "Anna and The King" and when I heard The King of Siam quotes Confucius about travel it seemed pretty profound to me. The quote is simply this: “Roads are for journeys not destinations”. I simply could not agree more. This journey of mine and the many roads I travelled is my greatest achievement.

Mary

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