Walkies – Stage 0

Getting Ready to Go…

Well, with less than a week to go before I start walking I am starting to panic!

Ok, to be honest I have been panicking for a while now, but now I have started to really panic! What have I let myself in for? What am I doing? Is it too late to run away and hide for two months? It seems so long ago that I first thought about walking all 630 miles of the South West Coast Path for The Leprosy Mission, and I thought I had so much time to prepare. Now it is upon me and I am a little overwhelmed.

It doesn’t help with the masses of conflicting advice people have told me – use surgical spirit to toughen up your feet; use foot cream to soften up your feet; wear two pairs of socks at all times; wear only one pair of socks at all times; keep Toby on a lead to stop him going off the cliff; keep Toby off the lead to prevent him from pulling you over down the steep hills; drink only water; drink only energy drinks; take your time and enjoy the views; get your head down and press on……and so on. It seems when it comes to something like this, despite most of us having never done it we all come out with the good advice and handy hints. One piece of advice that everyone did agree on was that I needed to get in lots of practice.

I had started my training preparation well and was building up to a good number of long distance walks when Toby, my Dalmatian companion, fell off the cliff on a practice walk. It was in fact near Hartland Quay which is a section of the walk I had decided to practice as it fills me with dread – not helped by it being the section that EVERYONE warns me about! It is a section full of steep climbs and even steeper descents and so Toby was off the lead – the steep and uneven paths which are made up of loose stones and gravel can be treacherous to descend, and that’s without a 32kg spotty ball of muscle and raw energy harnessed on a lead pulling me downwards! Anyway we had reached the top of a climb and were chatting to some people picnicking at the summit. As we stood chatting Toby, who was not chasing rabbits, sticks or anything else, but who was just stood there waiting patiently for me to stop talking, lost his footing and fell about 15m down the cliff to a handy (and thorny) ledge below. 

Toby the spotty ball of energy

His fall caused one broken foot, one dislocated foot and one ripped apart foot, as well as a whole body’s worth of cuts and bruises. It also caused us to have to stop our training in favour of recovery. So instead of being the super-fit, pure muscle and stamina specimen that I had planned to become for the start of this long walk, I am in fact still the mildly-fit and far too flabby specimen that I have always been!

So there you have it…..am I ready? Not really! Will I ever be? Probably not! It is at times like this when I remind myself that ‘God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called!’ As I chomp on my Easter eggs and do my final preparations I pray that this little venture was indeed something that God called me to do, and that if so He will hurry up and equip me….any moment now I will be transformed into someone ready and able for this task, complete with firm thighs and feet which are the right proportion of soft and tough……..but I have a sinking feeling that this is not how it works!

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