Steve Blethyn, a fellow Reading Adventurer, had done this walk a few years ago at night time, but decided to do it day time for a work colleague, diagnosed with Lupus. He spoke of this walk on our previous Quackathon and remembered him refering to walking the A4 as "souless and destroying"! So, I thought I would keep him company, and do what I do best- waddle long distance, raise the profile and awareness of another dreadfull illness. Lupus UK isn't one of my Super Six charities but I strongly believe in championing all causes. Time isn't always so readily given, like donations. Equally as important.
My dear husband kindly got up at 3.30am to drive us to Buckingham palace, where our walk would start. Sadly, Neither the Queen or Prince Phillip came out with tea and bacon rolls, so after a few photos, we set off West. The sun was our backs and a fresh light wind in our face.
At this point I shall mention the weather and my pack. The weather did stay dry, with just a couple of scary black clouds to tease us. Only a few spots of rain in the wind at Windsor and Twyford. I used my new nathan Elite pack which I am using for all my running events. Very light weight and fits snuggly into the back. I had just two litres of water made up as an Orbana energy drink. I had two nak'd bars, three 9seed bars, one Viper Boost bar, one Maximuscle protein bar, three Optima Sports jellies and Gummy Bears (which I ditched as hated them). I stole a cheese sandwich from Steve as I was craving something savoury! This light pack fueled me adequately and I certainly had enough energy to go some extra miles. Good training for my Forces March!
The walk itself was quite uneventful. The A4 was indeed long and blooming noisy! We could alomost touch the bellies of those airplanes when we were under the incoming flight path!
Just past Hounslow I heard a strange bird noise. Thought it was a very cross magpie but no, it was a green parakeet! Thankfully it landed in a nearby tree for Steve to also see it and know I wasn't high on aviation fuel! We saw another one a few minutes later. Tropical times!
Hysteria must have kicked in at 12 miles as we came across a hilaroius billboard advertising Hot Dogs. It read "Dong Dong! 12" long" I then spent a few minutes trying to get a photo of Steve lined up inappropriately next to it in a "bragging pose". This amused the traffic. I was close to corpsing and rendered useless momentarily. I then used Fibroduck for the pose. Much easier (and co-operative).
At mile 16, after Heathrow Airport, we had a pitstop at Macdonalds. Steve devoured a cheeseburger, I just had a hot chocolate. Oh, and "powdered my nose". The Manager came over to ask about our dress sense. I should explain here that we both wore Lupus UK t-shirts. But I had added some butterfly wings to myself and to the small duck on my hi-viz hat (that lit up). I also had hi-viz long sleeves under my Lupus t-shirt. I attracted a lot of attention. The Butterflies are symbolic to Lupus. The Manager asked what were doing so I explained we were doing a long walk for charity. I am glad I didn't launch into a monologue as her reply was "I am getting my visa extended with Immigration tomorrow". Ok, time to go...
Our next section was a little grim walking through to Windsor via Datchet. There is a lot of rubbish in the verges which was quite sad. In other countries the rubbish is hauled out regularly. It was a real eye sore and a sad reflection upon the state of our country. This beautiful country side is also right next to the gate way of entry into England, Heathrow, and on the doorstep of our Monarch's residence.
We greeted Windsor in a noisy fashion as this marked our half way point, both in time and distance. I had lost my little Fibroduck so sadly I couldn't do any poses with it. So I had to stand in front of the great Gates. A lot of time was lost here as we waited for a journalist to show. One cheese sandwich later and after a row of compeed plasters were added to my right foot, we set off, as she didn't appear. We walked against a tidal wave of people out enjoying the beauiful spring day, and probably celebrating Mother's Day. One family did give us some loose change when they read our t-shirts, explaining they knew of Lupus and that it had affected a great friend quite badly. spurred on with this reminder of what we were doing we sped on t make up lost time.
The section through to Twyford was a little fraught as there were no paths. The lanes had a lot of bends, and a lot of bumpy verges that hurt my tender blistered feet. One blister had popped and was agonising for five minutes. Time for a couple of Nurofen. The signs out of Windsor had said that Twyford was only ten miles away. Excellent. So off we shot. However, after a few more signs, and a garmin check of distance, even after five miles, the signs started to lie. Twyford was eight miles away! Then for about another three miles it was always "Four miles" away. Gave up believing in the signs after that!
I was thankful for my hi-viz colours as the fast moving traffic really did make me feel quite vunerable. Steve and I had been tweeting on the hoof but it was too dangerous on this section.
It was also at this point, and after a couple of Monster Energy drinks that Steve launched into the Shrek scripts of Donkey and Shrek, starting with "Are We nearly there??" Already dodging traffic, I was again rendered useless, and dangerous, as I laughed and fell off verges into oncoming traffic! Which made me laugh even more!
Also enjoyed the oppulence of the country side. Huge houses with massive walls hiding shiny expensive cars and horses. Most of them had stable blocks as well as double garages. Heard some unusual noises and then came across a Drag Hunt. Everyone quite resplendant in their red jackets with shiny buttons. Very Sundayish. The hounds were baying and the squirrels were hiding in trees over head. I nervously walked past hoping no one could see my hi-viz duck. Steve increased his pace and left me for dust.
Finally, at thirty four miles we arrived in Twyford. Steve bolted into a shop for some much need liquids. Thankfully no more energy drinks. Shrek, Donkey AND Elma Fudd could be quietened down with a litre of Mountain Dew! We were joined by two pairs of fresh legs to walk the final stretch of eight miles into Reading by Darren and Shelli. They are both keen walkers and runners and getting their mileage in the for the 2012miles in 2012 effort on Facebook. It was good to have some new conversation and different backs to look at. I had another couple of nurofen to ease the blister pain situation. The left foot had no compeed and was hurting. Just walked through it as mind over matter. They did finally pop at the fortieth mile. Major ouch!
Dusk was upon us and I was ravenous. My left hamstring was tightening up. I had the daft notion that running would be a more comfortable option. I apologised to all for breaking into a light jog and assured them I wasn't showing off, just using different muscle groups. I was also landing on my blisters at a different angle and they were on the ground for shorter time! It was truly more comfortable! I ran the last five miles..oh get me! Running Duck after walking thirty seven miles!
We were over taken going up Southampton Street by my husband driving to collect us from the Madjeski stadium. He offered us a lift but it was declined..of course! The Tease! My son was looking quite gobsmacked to see me running! I had one of those out of body experiences. yes it must have looked odd - threee walkers and a running duck heading up the section of Reading half Marathon's course, two weeks early, at dusk.
Finally, we approached the Madjeski stadium. What a sight. Steve works at a local school and the Welcoming Committe were children and parents from there. With a lot of cheering and applause we went to touch the walls of the stadium and turn for our photos. Magic moment.
Time for home. A quick detour to drop Darren and Shelli off at Reading station, then home.
despite being hungry I was actually too tired to eat. I managed a protein shake, two slices of toast with peanut butter and a yoghurt. A warm bath, then bed! and oh boy, how I slept!
Monday was a day of rest and recovery. I had removed the compeeds in the bath so they blisters could dry and heal in fresh air. I had to pop and drain them again, plus bathe them. The tightness in my left hamstring was massaged and stretched though out the day. I walked to the shops and did a small dog walk. I just kept moving to easeout those hardworking ligaments and muscles. the best way to recover. I slept a lot and drank a lot. But still not overly hungry. I also wore my compression tights all day. Ankles kept ballooning so I spent a lot of time with my feet up the wall! The hunger kicked in on Tuesday!
So, there ends my little ramble about a long walk for charity. I have spared you a lot of the thoughts that I had. But suffice to say...more adventures and ideas may come to fruition over the next few months!
Thankyou to Steve for allowing me to keep him company. Thankyou to my husband for the lift to London and picking me up. Thankyou to my children for letting me disappear on the day they wanted to spoil me. A big thankyou to all of those who donated, retweeted and replied to our tweets, to high profile our walk and raise the awareness of Lupus. The biggest Thankyou is to all of you who continually show your support and friendship.
Text a donation to LUPU55 £1 to 70070 or Just Giving Page.