Unicorn Walking: My Quarter Marathon Walk

So, yesterday I completed my quarter marathon walk for Comic Relief. I woke up to driving rain and some really strong winds, so I was a little worried that I’d be soaked in my Unicorn Onesie.

Ah, yes, I was doing the +7 miles walk dressed as a unicorn.

When I started fundraising in February donations were a little slow in coming in, so I decided that I’d appeal to my friends and family’s meaner instincts and give them a chance to embarrass me. I said that if I hit my £70 target by the 1st of March I would do the walk in a unicorn onesie.

It had the desired effect and soon the donations were rolling in and I smashed the £70 barrier with two days of February to go. In fact, the donations kept coming in and I reached £160, more than double what I’d aimed for (£125 on JustGiving, £35 via Facebook).

So, I got my unicorn onesie on and headed to Limpert Bay, where I would be starting my walk heading East along the coast for Barry Island. The weather had eased off, and while there was a bit of wind coming off the sea, conditions were okay and I was quietly confident, while still aware that I was pushing myself to walk further than I had before.

Luckily, I wouldn’t be doing it alone as my little sister had joined me for the walk, and hopefully the Comic Relief balloons she was carrying would let people know that there was a reason for the walk and not just some weirdo wandering about dressed as a mythical horned horse.

unicornwalkstart

We got going and the first stretch was pretty easy, the wind kept off us by a sea wall and the path tarmac. After a while we lost this and had to walk along a track which got a bit muddy in places, but all was good.

Then we hit what was the first of several hills as the Wales Coast Path would take us up and down some of the cliffs. We trooped up a ton of steps and by this point realised we were about two miles, or 1/4-1/3 of the way through. For most of the way so far we’d seen a handful of dog walkers who seemed a little bemused, but surprisingly I felt very little embarrassment. Was it the fact I knew I was doing something good? Or that the balloons answered their question as to what was happening? Or was the spirit of the unicorn taking over? Yeah, it’s probably not the last one.

At the top of the hill the path took us through a caravan park and we got plenty of confused and amused looks from windows as we passed, before we found ourselves moving onto walking along fields on a route which rose and fell with the coastline. For a long stretch we were on a narrow, muddy track where finding solid footing was tricky.

This slowed us down quite a bit, and also the branches overhead claimed one of the balloons. But we ploughed on, chatting away and joking about how a mud covered Unicorn Chris would make a funny photo, albeit one I hoped to avoid. We dropped down again, before climbing once more, but the route here was less tricky and we were both feeling good.

Around this point we reached a large standing stone which told us we were at “The most Southerly point”.

“Of what?” My sister asked.

“Wales, I guess.”

It turned out I was right, but the standing stone’s inscription had faded. A less impressive plastic sign told us we were at Rhoose Point and as far South as you can go in Wales. I suggested that in a few years we could try to walk from here to Ynys Mon, the most Northern part of Wales. But this would have to be a few years, and a lot of training away. But it shows that I was feeling pretty good at this point.

This good feeling stayed with us until we neared Porthkerry, where we faced a steep downward portion of the route that had been reduced by recent rainfall into a mudslide. We managed to get about half way down okay, although our pace had slowed considerably.

unicornroute

Where I walked, from the left to the right,

Unfortunately, I got in my own head and started to think about falling too much. If I’d kept going I would have been better off, but overthinking it made me panic a little. I got a grip on myself and managed to make it to the bottom okay. We were now within sight of several key landmarks and feeling good.

Then came the hardest uphill portion of the whole walk, a large, steep stairway which probably would have been a challenge on it’s own, but around five miles in was agony. By the top I was gasping for breath, my thighs on fire and feeling knackered. I chugged some water and started to fear cramping.

There was a couple sat on a bench and for the first time I felt truly self conscious, knowing that I looked a state, huffing and red faced. The unicorn magic was clearly wearing off.

We walked on across a large field which was largely flat and only rose and fell in gentle stages. I caught my breath, my legs stopped aching and I started to feel good again.

Then we dropped down at the Knap and from there on we knew we were on road again, and wonderfully close. Unfortunately, the rain started and I got a little damp, but the end in sight, I wasn’t going to stop.

Finally, we reached Barry Island and headed for our finishing line, along the front, just up from Marco’s.

The walk had taken 3 hours and 56 minutes, much longer than planned, but had I scouted the route better I would have been more realistic. The hills and the mud really slowed up the pace and I think if I did a flatter, better paved route I could beat that time.

What I will say is that despite the aches, the rain and the tiredness, I felt immensely proud at the finishing point. There was a real sense of achievement, I’d set myself a challenge and met it, and it leaves me optimistic for facing fresh challenges as I move forward, and hopefully getting fitter will help with those. I’m hoping to consistently exercise more and lose weight so maybe in a year or so I’ll try this route again to see how I do.

unicornwalkend

I couldn’t have done it without my sister, as having someone with me made me feel safer and the company definitely helped to distract and make it more fun. Also, it was really great to see WoM waiting at the finish line to drive us home, and the cups of tea she had brought were extremely appreciated.

My Just Giving page is still active, so if you want to donate a bit more, you can do so here.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Why a Quarter Marathon?

So, I know I’ve already written a blog about doing a 7 mile walk for Comic Relief , but I thought I’d write a little bit more about it here, and why I’ve chosen this distance to walk.

rnd honkus

Me wearing Honkus Ponkus, one of this year’s red noses. Shortly after this, HP was sadly chewed by Ozzy.

Last year, I really started trying to walk more. I’ve found that it has really helped both my physical and mental well being. I don’t do well sat in the house all day and making sure that I get outside more often is not only helping with the weight loss attempt but also gives me an opportunity to clear my head, and leaves me feeling much fresher afterwards.

In 2018, I did two walking challenges but these were over extended periods of time. I did pace challenges for Sport Relief in March and then in the last quarter of the year I did the Countryfile Ramble for Children in Need. For both of these I had to walk a certain amount over a few days or weeks, and I found it really good for my motivation. Adding to the Race at Your Pace it’s why I finished the year losing weight and feeling better about myself.

I started 2019 with the idea that I would like to beat my 2018 fundraising total (£381.86), and decided that I wanted to push myself with longer distance walks this year. I think doing something on a set day would give me a better focus, and would also mean that as soon as the event is done I can stop hassling people for sponsorship.

In the newspapers I saw a few adverts for charity events where you signed up for long distance walks, and decided these looked like a good idea. There was a time when I probably would have signed up there and then, but I’m older and wiser now, and did a quick bit of research. It turned out that I’d underestimated how long it would take to train for a walk over 20 miles, and decided that I should probably build up to this over time.

The quarter marathon for Comic Relief is the start of my attempts to increase my fitness to the level where I can take on more difficult, longer challenges. I figure it’s better to approach it this way, instead of pushing myself too hard, too fast. If I had gone for one of those massive walks first of all, I suspect I would have failed, and this would have had a massive impact on me.

First of all, the knock to my confidence would have thrown me off my progress, and discouraged me from continuing with other challenges. Having to share my failure would probably be a difficult thing to do, none of us enjoy reliving and laying bare our shortcomings.

I would have felt that I had let down my sponsors, the charity I was representing and myself. And this could open the door to a dark place that could leave me feeling really bad about myself. I don’t want to feel like that, I’m trying to feel better about myself and improve my self esteem.

Doing a long distance walk without sufficient preparation would have jeopardised all the work I’ve tried to do on myself. So, that’s why I’m starting small.

Of course, this leads to extra problems, because whenever I’m hustling for donations, like with this blog, I feel kinda lame. My seven mile walk seems small compared to people climbing Kilimanjaro or running marathons. And it seems positively insignificant when I see updates from Jamie McDonald’s Super US Run, where he’s running across America.

Asking for money to cover 7 miles suddenly seems a bit lame.

But I need to stop comparing myself to others. They didn’t do those marathons or mountains on day one.

The person I need to measure myself against is me.

For me, seven miles is a new thing to do. I haven’t done it all in one go before. So for me, it is a challenge. I’m pushing myself, and it doesn’t matter if it’s something someone else could do with ease. We’re all in different places, and I can’t be down on myself because someone else is ahead of me. It’s like going to the gym and on the first day being annoyed you can’t break the world for lifting weights.

So, I hope having read all this slightly rambling post you can appreciate that I am testing myself slightly and that the quarter marathon walk is more than just one walk. It’s the first walk in what I hope to be a series of increasingly difficult challenges.

Anyway, here’s the link for sponsorship and it starts as low as £3, so if you can spare that it’d be gratefully received, not just by me, but by everyone that Comic Relief helps around the world.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


SPONSOR ME!!!: Quarter Marathon Walk

One of the items on my bucket list is to raise £1 million for charity. It’s a big ask and so I’m approaching it as a long term goal that I’m slowly chipping away at.

Last year, thanks to the Sport Relief walking challenges and the Children in Need Countryfile Ramble along with a few other smaller things, I raised £381.86.

A long way to go!

Now, I don’t want to bombard people I know all the time, so I’m trying to do 2-3 things a year, and the first one this year is in aid of Comic Relief.

2019noses

On March 7th I’m going to walk from Limpert Bay to Barry Island, a distance of around 7 miles, slightly more than a quarter of a marathon.

I know to some folks 7 miles won’t sound like a lot, but it’ll be the longest continuous walk I’ve ever done and it’s the first step on a journey that I will hope see me increase my stamina and fitness until I can walk greater distances.

I’m set my goal at £70, which is a tenner per mile. You can sponsor me from as little as £2 and it helps a great course which provides help and support for people all over the world. All donations, big and small will be greatly appreciated.

I’m hoping that I can raise more this year than last year, and it’d be great if you could help with that.

My sponsorship page is here.

Thanks for your time!

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Adventureman by Jamie McDonald

I can’t remember when or why I downloaded this book onto my Kindle, but I’m glad I did, as Jamie McDonald’s story of his epic run across Canada is a charming and inspiring tale.

mcdonald adventureman

As a young child, Jamie was beset with serious health problems and at one point it was doubtful that he would be able to walk again. Incredibly, he would not only recover but confound expectations, and as an adult, to repay the children’s hospitals which had helped him he began undergoing massive fundraising efforts.

Having cycled from Bangkok to Gloucester and set the world record for longest time on a static bike (268 hours) and then he undertook this intense challenge. He would run from the East coast of Canada to the West, travelling 5000 miles, around 200 marathons back to back.

The sheer scale of the challenge itself is impressive enough, and I couldn’t help marvel at the determination, strength of will and optimism that McDonald displays. He raised thousands of pounds for children’s hospitals in both Canada and the UK, and understandably, his story has inspired many.

McDonald writes with a simple, conversational tone, capturing the harsh elements and challenges he faces along the way. There are bouts of loneliness and mental struggles in keeping going, but thanks to the support of countless Good Samaritans along the way, and his own spirit, he keeps going regardless.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, charmed by the affable Jamie and hugely inspired by his fundraising work and enthusiasm for helping others. This is a book that restores your faith in humanity, highlighting the selflessness, kindness and heroism that people display at their best.

It’s understandable that Jamie is viewed as a real life superhero, it’s hard to argue that his endurance and achievements don’t border on the superheroic. And the idea of adopting his own alter ego is charming and clever, helping to raise his profile.

Jamie continues his good work through the Superhero Foundation and is currently running across the US. You can follow his progress online, via his Twitter and I am currently doing that, and planning to donate come payday. He’s also inspired me to try my own bigger fundraising event next year, although mine won’t be as physically demanding.

Verdict: An inspiring and wonderful story of one man’s heroism and endurance. Lovely stuff. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Sponsor me?

Sorry to bother you, reader, but I’m taking part in Children in Need’s Countryfile Ramble and I just wanted to ask if you could sponsor me.

pudsey

Children in Need is the BBC’s charity that raises money for, well, the name kinda explains it all. The charity does great work helping thousands of disadvantaged kids all over the country, and this year I’m trying to do my bit to help.

The challenge involves trying to get people to walk as much as they can so that combined it equals having covered the circumference of the UK. The target I’ve given myself is to walk 75 miles between the 29th of October and November 16th, which is the day of the Children in Need television event. At the time of writing, I’m doing pretty good and think I’ll reach it, so I may up my target if I get there early.

My original goal was £100 and I hit that yesterday, so my new target is to raise £150. If you want to help me hit that goal, and all those kids, you can sponsor me here, and the good news is that the minimum donation is £1, so you can help out for less than the cost of a coffee.

I don’t want to lie and appear like I’m just being selflessly altruistic, because there are definitely some things I get out of doing this:

  1. It helps me towards my Race at Your Pace target
  2. Helps me with my goal to get fit
  3. Helps chip away at my bucket list item to raise £1m for charity
  4. Makes me feel good, and you can get that charitable buzz too!

So, if you have a spare quid, please sponsor me.

Thanks, and I’ll update you as to how I do.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: March Update: Mountains and Mirrors

I haven’t been able to hop on the scales the last couple of weeks, so I don’t know exactly where I am weight wise.

With no hard data I’m gonna have to guess how the month has gone. I think I’ve lost a fair bit this month thanks in part to all the extra walking I did for Sport Relief (I raised £175 in the end, which is a start on my “raise £1m for charity” bucket list item).

Walking with Oz

I’ve also been swimming a couple more times, and while I still suck, I’ve passed 1000m which is more than I managed between 1999 and 2017. So, that’s something, I guess.

Eating healthy has been hit and miss, with us moving house there have been a few evenings when MWF and I couldn’t be bothered to cook and opted for take aways.

Despite feeling like I’ve lost weight this month, and enjoying the extra exercise, body confidence wise I can’t say I feel great. Our new bedroom has built in wardrobe with a mirrored front.

This means that getting up in the morning, or getting ready for bed I get to see my body as big as life. And twice as ugly.

I saw old photos of myself at university this week, and think I look better now, but back then I don’t remember having the same revulsion at my reflection. Or did I just ignore it then?

For those few moments before or after sleep I am confronted with a body I dislike. I have half baked plans for working on my bucket list and trying new things, but I feel I need to scale it back and for now, just focus on slimming down.

I know I’ll never be one of those insanely ripped guys, and frankly, I don’t want to be. But I definitely want to be smaller and more comfortable and happy with what I see in the mirror.

It might take a while though.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


From Atop Kilimanjaro

So yesterday evening I completed my Sport Relief challenge to walk the equivalent of climbing Kilimanjaro. It went pretty well and taking a greater effort to get out every day has made me feel better and hopefully the exercising has helped with my hopes of losing some weight.

But Sport Relief isn’t until Friday so it feels foolish to stop now. Besides I want to keep the momentum going and give people a reason to sponsor me, so I’m taking on a few more challenges. Starting yesterday I decided to do the 100 Quidditch Pitches challenge.

It’s not as long as the Kilimanjaro one, but it should keep me busy for the next couple of days and I have one more planned for later the week.

Anyway, if you’d like to sponsor me, you still can by going here. It would be greatly appreciated, and remember, every little helps.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Climbing Kilimanjaro. Kinda.

Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain which, as we all know, rises like Olympus above the Serengeti. Climbing this mountain has become a regular charity fundraising event, and this year in aid of Sport Relief, it’s my turn.

Sorta.

I’ve joined the charity’s step challenge fundraiser and one of the challenges is the Kilimanjaro one. This means I have to try and make 58,750 steps before the 23rd of March, which is roughly how much it takes to get to the top.

I’ll keep you guys up to date with how I do, and if you fancy sponsoring me that would be great. Here’s the link. Thanks.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fundraising for the Unfit

I spent a lot of the last week quite tired and fed up thanks to moving house and work. Despite this towards the end of the week I was seized by a sudden burst of energy and enthusiasm.

The focus of this? My resolutions list, particularly item 3- Cross at least one item off the Bucket List. I’ve been thinking and planning a few of them, and will keep you posted.

One of the items is to raise £1m for charity. I’ve known from when I added this to the list that it would be something that took time, with me chipping away at the amount over the years.

Which has got me thinking about what I can do to raise some cash? I’m nowhere near healthy enough to do a race at the moment (although hopefully after shifting some weight I can get back into running) and I’m not crafty enough to make things to sell.

I’ve thought of a few lazy fundraising ideas:

  • Bad movie marathon- people donate and suggest terrible films for me to watch. I try to watch as many as possible.
  • Blog marathon. I try to write as many blog posts as possible in 24 hours. Although would probably help if I invested in a decent laptop first.
  • Tattoo auction. People bid to chose what marks part of my skin. Massively risky, but would generate publicity.
  • Man vs Food challenge. Would seriously damage my weight loss attempts, but would count as crossing something else off my list.

Would you donate to someone doing one of those? Or have any ideas of your own for how I can raise some money? If so, you know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Kiss Chronicles by Virginia Sanders

I just stumbled across this book by accident but the synopsis intrigued me and I gave it a go. The premise is simple, having reached thirty without having been kissed, Virginia Sanders decides to auction off her first Kiss to raise money for charity. The book details this process.

image

The opening stages of the book are pretty good, with Sanders explaining how she’s made it so far without being kissed, her thoughts on kissing and some personal background. She is an amiable presence as a writer and these early parts are the strongest section.

The plan she hatches is genius but what follows is a frustrating story about the difficulties and complications that beset the project. Sanders talks about the stress and troubles with openness and doesn’t hide from responsibility but the ending feels flat, and the charity bureaucracy doesn’t make fun reading at times.

The end stages are a bit frustrating and it loses momentum, but Sanders is still likeable until the end. I would have enjoyed it more with a better ending, but sometimes in life we don’t get satisfying endings. On the whole though the book works, and for free you can’t be too miffed that it doesn’t live up to its promise.

The charity plan doesn’t quite work out and Sanders asks readers to donate on an honour system, so come payday I will make a donation to Cancer Research as a thank you for this book.

Verdict: Sanders is a warm, amiable writer and some of the book sparkles, but the ending is a bit disappointing and it stumbles in places. 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.