When I joined this Oxfam team I looked forward to getting super-duper fit through an intensity of training I had never undertaken before.
I didn’t know I would spend every day of the first three weeks of this year at a hospital bedside. I didn’t know we would be hearing words such as “rare infection” and “difficult to treat” and “mortality rate” and “spinal surgery” and “significant risks” and “resuscitation”.
In light of these conversations the urgency to train diminished and I have walked nowhere beyond the well-worn track from car park to hospital ward.
It’s my father-in-law who has exerted enormous amounts of energy this week; his resolve has been inspirational.
“I don’t want to do this, the pain is unbearable, I’m scared of popping my stitches, I just don’t have the energy, but I’ll do it. Let’s get on with it.” And with grim determination, gritting his teeth and suppressing the groans, he dragged his body to a standing position for the first time in what seems like forever less than 24 hours after he had spent more than half a day under the surgeon’s knife. The next day he managed to shuffle alongside the bed.
The images of his resolve-in-action may well carry me further than any physical training I might have done. If I try half as hard as he has, I will finish well.
I hope Saturday’s walk turns out to be one of our harder training walks! I went with one of the other team members who had done a couple of kilometres before I joined him. He set a cracking pace and didn’t slow down for hills! Realising I would never make the distance if I killed myself on the hills I waved him good-bye with a call that I’d meet him at the top when we got to the second incline.
Until now our team strategy has been to stay together, but we hadn’t done any serious hills. Tackling these ones – with a total elevation gain of 1,345m (that’s more than our older kids did when they summited Ngauruhoe!!) – showed us the need to allow for individual differences within the context of working as a team.
We also learnt about fueling our bodies better. A sandwich and banana are fine if you are doing 30km street walking, but when you hit uneven trails with hills and want to cover a good distance we discovered we need to eat more and sooner. We were also rationing out our water, thinking it needed to last all day, but a guy we stopped to chat to told us of a potable supply further along our route so we increased our intake and felt better for it.
We covered quite a range of terrain – roads, stony trails, dirt tracks with protruding tree roots, grassy fields, sand dunes, stream crossings, gravel.
And the weather ranged from very pleasant at 6:30am to increasingly warm to positively hot to scorching when the sun broke through the cloud cover to intermittent drops of welcome drizzle to constant unrelenting drizzle.
It’s amazing to think you can be quite the intrepid traveller even in our own backyard – with a little poetic license we were fording streams and crossing deserts and trudging through tropical rainforest. We passed groups picnicking by the lake, a Dad towing his kids in a boat up a river and cars full of young people and topped with surfboards. We sure have a great place to train.
I found the walk to be physically demanding, but was most encouraged that nothing *hurt* – the legs weren’t sore at all, but just needed coaxing up hills when they lacked energy. True triumph was the following morning when I felt fine……even a month ago I found myself hobbling after a long walk. It’s encouraging to experience the improvement.
(the one spot of mud – not at all indicative of the general state of the trail when we took the photo!! However, after three hours of constant drizzle, the paths were slippery underfoot)
Last week’s training
Saturday 39km – HARD!!
Done some beautiful walking this weekend – two 30km days back to back and after the trainingless Christmas period, I was pleasantly surprised at the spring in my step.
I’m amused that I can walk all day but can’t run half a block to save myself. Nevertheless it is good to be feeling strong – I’ll focus on what I *can* do, and ignore what I can’t.
Last week’s training:
Total: 102km (that’s the distance covered – now just need to condense it into 36 hours!)
The theory was that after Christmas it would be holiday-time and I could get lots of miles in. The theory failed to take into account hours in the vegetable garden, spontaneous dinners, hospital visits, dramas with children…..we have chosen the more important and even if the walk turns out to be more painful because of that I will regret nothing. Neither will I decided to try it again next year to see what it’s like with a good training schedule! If nothing else, the lengthening walks I’ve been occasionally managing have taught me I like long walks when I have somewhere to *go*, but I’m not so fond of trudging for trudging’s sake. It’s also been confirmed that 25-30km is a comfortable distance for me…..and I’m a comfortable kind of gal rather than a driven extreme sportsperson who wonders what their limit is and goes out looking for it!
This week’s training (snuck in at the last minute today or else the total would have been 0km for the week!!)