Monday, 25 May 2015

Sunday Summary Monday Missive

Brace yerselves, this is a very long one (I always go the distance, me...); written from the comfort of my 'internest':

{via Grammarly on Facebook}
This week, I have mostly been...

Reading
{still...}
Incidentally, the Readers' Hub of Judgment more commonly known as Goodreads is telling me I'm four books behind schedule in my mission to read another 50 books this year. I'm ignoring it. 

Hearing...

...Caroline Criado-Perez and Bridget Christie in conversation

Last Monday, Evie, Eloise and I met up at Kings Place to hear this brilliant conversation between journalist Criado-Perez and comic and broadcaster Christie, based on Criado-Perez' recently published title, Do It Like a Woman ... and change the world 



The book focuses on the stories of women who make a difference in their lives and those of others, with some excellent quotes and anecdotes.

Ultimately, the fact that women do great things should not be a radical newsflash. It should be part and parcel of a daily dialogue along the lines of people do great things. Men are constantly celebrated for taking the most mediocre of steps because they're men. But female roboticists and astronauts are continuously lauded in a separate arena, because they're women and unless they take huge steps within their fields their stories will be never be told, is basically the principle here. Women's achievements should not be classed as women's achievements; just as achievements.

But I digress. This was a truly inspiring and thought-provoking conversation about the perception and role of women in society, waymarked (this is my word of the month, had ya noticed?) by rather depressing statistics such as, women have just 28% of speaking roles in Hollywood; and -- this one I can't quite process -- only 13% of news stories focus on women.

13%. Not even a quarter. What, are we invisible or sommat?!

Other salient points included the fact that for centuries men have seen public speaking as a forum for asserting their masculinity so strong women orators are perceived as a threat; also that while we have made huge progress in strengthening the roles and reputations of women, women should not feel obliged to feel 'grateful' for the progress made and rest on the laurels of our predecessors.
Gratitude never radicalised anyone.
-- Susan B. Anthony
This particular TED talk by Jackson Katz (who is described as an anti-sexism activist), on violence against women, was referenced in conversation, so I thought it appropriate to share it here:



This quote, below, was particularly relevant in light of all the abuse that Criado-Perez herself garnered on the back of her campaign to get a woman represented on a banknote:
Now, I understand that a lot of women who have been trying to speaking out about these issues [sexual and domestic violence], today and yesterday and for years and years, often get shouted down for their efforts. They get called nasty names like "male-basher" and "man-hater," and the disgusting and offensive "feminazi." Right? And you know what all this is about? It's called kill the messenger. It's because the women who are standing up and speaking out for themselves and for other women as well as for men and boys, it's a statement to them to sit down and shut up, keep the current system in place, because we don't like it when people rock the boat. We don't like it when people challenge our power. You'd better sit down and shut up, basically. And thank goodness that women haven't done that. Thank goodness that we live in a world where there's so much women's leadership that can counteract that.
-- Jackson Katz

Watching

I've shifted away from House momentarily (because the last series is just plain wrong without the Huddy dynamic) and have stumbled upon The 4400 on Netflix, a short-lived but interesting sci-fi series from about a decade ago:


It's sort of a cross between The X-Files and Flight of the Navigator



with a smidge of E.T. thrown in (or perhaps I'm just saying that as Peter Coyote stars in the first series in that very empathetic "I do love me an alien" role again).

---

And now for the moment you've all been scrolling for...

WALKING 100K TO COMPLETE THE LONDON 2 BRIGHTON CHALLENGE!

I.

Only.

Flipping.

DID IT!


And just in case you're not convinced by my triumph solely through the medium of giffage, here's an actual picture of actual me after crossing the actual finish line!

BOOM!

{Piccie from the parents | To quote Elle Woods
in Legally Blonde,  "Whoever said orange was the new
pink was seriously disturbed..."}

I'm not sure I can properly encapsulate the experience.

I keep coming up with little bullet-point-like observations but I can't pull it all together into, like, long paragraphs, or anything. (There is over 25 hours of usable material in my head, after all...)

But I'll start here:

Here's the route:



Here are my stats:


{My rank has gone up to 544 since this screenshot was taken. Marvellous!}
And here's a truth that prior to yesterday morning at 9.09am may have seemed arrogant, delusional and misguided but was always worth clinging to like a Compeed to a sock...:

I never once thought I wouldn't finish it

All hail the power of positive thinking, eh? Positive Mental Attitude! Rah!

...All right, maybe at times leading up to the walk I questioned myself, especially last Thursday when I woke up with some sort of g'dawful stomach bug.

But withdrawing even 80k down the line was never an option.


...I mean, c'mon, have you seen my Pinterest L2B Motivation board?!


And I thunk I could -- so I did.

Maybe it helped that just 1k into the walk I was already visualising the finish line. I don't know.

Anyway, since I can't work out where to begin a cogent account of the walk, I'll litter the post with a few photos to prompt some words or sommat. I didn't take many photos considering: too busy walking, or something...

{Starting tent selfie | Sat, 7.20am, T-20 minutes!}
· For the most part I could not fault the organisation of this event | from the swift registration to the small, regular morning departure groups that meant there was no MoonWalk-level build-up at any point (except around stiles!). And, the loo queues. What loo queues?! None. At all.

{Rowing boats for hire | Richmond | Sat, 7.55am}
{See that little cabin on the river? That's my other future house, that is
| btwn Richmond and Twickenham?! | Sat, 9.10am}
· Shortly after turning off the Thames Path, I spotted a swan and tiny grey cygnets. Made me a little gushy, so it did. Spotting (living, not roadkill) wildlife on walks has been ridiculously life affirming recently... #colourmebumpkin

{The lady on the right has done this event three times now. Three. Times
| Farthing or Fairdean Downs | Sat, 2.05pm}
{Outwood Windmill | looks familiar! | Sat, 6.05pm}
· At four points in the walk I felt a flush of grounding mixed with pride | as I passed places I'd trodden during training: 1) the corner of Old Deer Park, 2) Ewell, 3) Belmont Station, and latterly, 4) Outwood (above).

We also passed Park Ham, which I'd spied on the Merstham-Oxted leg of the North Downs Way. Made me glad to have plotted routes so close to the final trail, so I could size up the terrain!

I was sorry to have swept through Ewell much too quickly to be able to catch up with little sis, though.

{Halfway to Happiness |  Copthorne, Sat. 7.10pm}
· At the halfway point | I was definitely more encouraged that I'd clocked up 50% than I was discouraged that I still had 50% to do! I was all about the PMA, people!
{The brass band played, tiddly-om-pom pom... actually, more like Eye of
the Tiger |
at 56km, Tulleys Farm, Sat, 9.05pm}
{Three quarters done and done! | Sun, 2.25am}
· The night leg was tough, but not as hard-going as I thought it would be | in terms of being able to stay awake and not miss my bed!

The amount of concentration needed to navigate between the (very well lit) neon arrows and glow sticks, and to navigate over mud, roots, stiles, sudden drops and wobbly tractor-churned terrain, without any guidance whatsoever from the frustratingly elusive 'Trek Masters', was more than enough to keep me alert.

Especially when I found myself at the head of a small sub-group, shouting, "MUD! ROOTS! STILE! BIG DROP! WOBBLY BIT!" over my shoulder in warning.

(The navigating over mud, roots, stiles, sudden drops and wobbly terrain in darkness? That was tough. Even with the essential head torch (thanks, Mumsy!).

I never descended to this level of despair:


but I did feel neglected at times***.

There ought to have been at least two Trek Masters per night group: one at the front of the group, one at the rear. That's the only quibble I have with the whole set-up. (Oh and also the rest stops could have been a little less further apart but -- eh. It was an endurance course, after all!)

*** That said, I had enormous, enormous remote support from my clan, and from two particularly fantastic ladies at the wee, small hours of morning, but more on that shortly...

I pushed on through and was darn glad to reach the 80k stop and civilisation. And breakfast at 3.45am. As yer do. Never have I enjoyed a bowl of Crunchy Nut cornflakes more than I did yesterday morning, let me tell yer.

{Sleep-deprived, sun-up selfie | Sun, 4.55am}
{Break of day at last! | Sun, 5am}
{Climb ev'ry mountaaaaain... | Heading up the South Downs | Sun, 7am}
{The long-ish and winding road... | Falmer | Sun, 7.10am}
· The uphill climbs that looked hellish on the altitude graph weren't so bad | but (*smugface*) once you've tackled the 62,000 steps up to Box Hill you can tackle anything. Amiright?

{So close... | The Drove, South Downs | Sun, 8.30am}
{Do ya want a flake with that? | Brighton Racecourse, Sun, 9am}
...Forget the Green Mile of the MoonWalk.

This, this was the Green Mile. Or, the Green Two-Kilometres. That last stretch of distance that seems to last for, like, EVER.

But it finally, finally ended, the path that never ended (!)
{The final furlong, neiiiiigh... | Sun, 9.05am!}

{Idiot incoming! | Piccie from my parents}

I DUNNIT!


I chatted to a good few people (including a couple of teachers, funnily enough -- as if their work isn't endurance enough!) on the way, and I am so proud of all 3,000 (?) people who participated, including my workmate Gif who ran -- ran! -- the 56k route and then some, in 8 hours 20.

I'm naming the folks here to honour them individually even if they will never read this post:

Karina, who I was meant to train with and have been FB-messaging, but clearly fate obliged because she did the route in 18hrs!
Jo, who I met on the train to Richmond, who did the 56k last year and was just doing the full walk for herself this year!
Angella, with two 'l's, walking for Breakthrough, in spite of having had her own breast cancer diagnosis last week. I really cannot even conceive of having the willpower to participate after news like that but she did)
Lynn and Karen, the Guernsey-based sisters walking for Autism
Rachel, walking for Brain Tumour Research
Ellen, my night-walk buddy, walking for Cancer Research
Clare and Joanne, also night-walk buddies walking for GOSH and for Cancer Research respectively, who helped me out of some seriously grim mud in the middle of a wood in the middle of the night...
and
Hazel, who signed up just a couple of weeks ago on a free place to raise money for Nepal, did 18 miles of training last weekend (compared to my one-gazillion hours since January if not before...! Young folk, eh?!) and still finished in 23 hours 43 mins, and who kept me going between 80k and 95k.

Winners all.

The walk gave me the opportunity to contemplate the highlights and less-high-lights of the whole training process and the event.

The not-so-great-things actually outnumber the great things, but it's a matter of quality not quantity: the value of the great things far outranks the value of the not-so-great things.

That said,

Never Doing This Challenge Again.
No, really. I mean it.
I'm not kidding.
If you even hear me thinking about it, I want you to stand weightily on both of my feet until I come to my senses again.
Agreed?

Great things:
Discovering beautiful new places just a couple of miles away from my own home
Turning into an outdoorsy sort of person from years of pasty, bookish indoorsy-ness
Getting fitter
Honing my navigation skills
That sense of achievement on crossing the line
Proving myself strong
Knowing I've helped raise over £1,400 for the MS Society
The power of a well-timed power-tune
Camaraderie, albeit passing, with cyclists and other walkers/runners
Nurofen Express
Deep Heat
Unexpected cereal and fry-ups at 3.45am...
Unexpected biscuits at Bletchingly served by a little boy

Not-so-great things:
Bananas
Bread
Bananas in bread
Blisters
Bugs in my mouth
Toenails coming loose. A world of ewwwww.
Swollen hands (remember Jon Lovitz in Friends? "I have such faaaat haaaaands...")
Falling temporarily out of love big-time with pasta
Falling temporarily out of love big-time... with chocolate
Synthetic orange-flavoured... anything
Load-bearing
Drinking out of a water bladder
The words "water bladder"
Hedgerow-hopping
Disappearing pavements
Disappearing Trek Masters
The need to find a discreet spot for an al fresco pee
The 45 minutes it takes to ready myself for a walk
Zinc oxide tape
Spending disgusting sums of money on plasters
The way this whole process has turned me slightly in on myself | It's not all about me!

---

Here for your audio-visual enjoyment are three songs that will probably make me dissolve into tears of triumph and recall for, like, ever**:

1. The Long and Winding Road | The Beatles


2. Somewhere Only We Know | Keane


3. Flashlight | Jessie J


**which is slightly unfortunate: friends, if you're coming to the Voicerox concert and want to pick me out of the crowd during at least two of our numbers, I'll be rocking this face:


***Finally in this segment, I want to give a hawge big-up to my cousin Jo and to Jos, for sending me encouraging messages and Pinterest spur-ons at crazy o'clock.

Even when I couldn't reply (because I was hoiking my little legs over a stile, or getting mired in mud) their missives raised my spirits. Massive thanks.

And, at the risk of sounding like a drama-llama Oscar-winner, I want to thank all of you again for supporting me, sponsoring me, geeing me on, believing I could ruddy do this, and congratulating me when I did ruddy do it. Made all the difference to have your backing.

Finally, thank you again to my family for still professing to be related to this madwoman. Oh and also for picking me up from the race course, meeting me with a huge bunch of beautiful red roses, and generally being fabulous.

And... guess what? Even after that little odyssey, and after a six-hour power-nap, I still had the stamina to head on out as I had Plans for...

Seeing Ruby and the Rhythms play

...at the Cage in Reigate again.

What a way to celebrate! I even stood up and danced (from the waist up, mind -- the feet were, and are, still delicate and the legs stiff but the will was, and is, great; as is pink wine).


Pinterest Pin of the Week



Weekly Weblinks

Literary Linkage
Non-literary linkage
(this week consisting mostly but not exclusively of gubbins on The Poke that tickled me...)
{Yep. True story}

(*actually not so much, until you get to the final image on the page...)

{Pugs Bunny | This is so cute I can't even. | via here}
 I'm off to... actually, darn-nabbit, I'm off nowhere. I'm staying in bed where I've been all day. I've earned it!

qb xx (aka Hardcore Harwood, because y'know, I totally ruddy am!)

Motivational May Mondays #momamo


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sunday Summary

This week, I have mostly been...

Reading


Watching



Pitch Perfect 2 at the Screen cinema in Reigate


with AJ, followed by a truly delectable Thai stir fry at Giggling Squid (with much wine...).

I've learned to be a little sceptical about sequels to films I loved (I'm talking about both Miss Congeniality and Legally Blonde Twos... ahem) so I went in to PP2 with a certain amount of reservation.

Unfounded. I actually laughed so hard at one part I wept. Actual tears. Face-mess.

Walking


{Why yes, those are my legs!*)

Friends, in a week it will all be over. I'll have participated in the London 2 Brighton 100k Challenge.

No more** will you click on this here very blog (whoa, this is all a bit post-modern self-referential, innit?) and be confronted by my overly-verbose accounts of training walks about the area. No more will you have to suffer through photos of near-identical vistas and bluebell fields. And my scabby, fatigued, mid-walk selfies.

{"¡Gracias a Dios! ¡Ella dejó de parlotear sobre sus paseos!")

And I honestly don't know what I'm going to do once it's all over (except for: more writing, more reading, more singing, more badge-making, more cooking, more sleeping, more holiday planning, more scrapbooking of the unforgettable bucket-list-tickin' holiday I took eight months ago... oh but less carb-loading...).

**But it ain't over quite yet. And, y'know, never say never.

Just under ten years ago I took part in the Weekend to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a two-day (60k) walking event that involved a forgettable night of camping in Finsbury Park (referenced in passing in this blog post). It nearly broke me.


After the last two MoonWalks I (probably) swore never again.

And yet here I am. Ruling nothing out at this stage. Besides, I'm a lot stronger in a lot of ways than I was ten years ago. Heck, I'm stronger than I was two years ago.

100k, I'm coming to kick your backside!


Yesterday I had a two-hour walk on the agenda; but I was also keen to finish off the North Downs Way Surrey leg I'd begun two weeks ago, as a final hurrah to long training walks, ahead of the Big Event.

I picked up the trail from Merstham and walked to Oxted, with only one or two minor diversions:

{Click to enlarge and thus view closer evidence of my idiocy}

and it was a glorious day for it!

{Crossing the first bridge out of Merstham}

{Merstham Church}

{#Well, it's set way back in the middle of a field //
just a funky ol' shack, and I gotta get back...#}

{Twerp on Tandridge Hill}

{Rather splendid look-out over chalk hills
from Tandridge Hill viewing point}
{The weird, beautiful poetry of shadows... | yep, I'd lost
the plot by this point}

I clocked up 10.52 miles in a slightly longer than planned 3 and a half hours which is... acceptable, I think.

I'm so nearly ready.

Bring it on!

*Making (more) gifs

Remember a few months ago I was so darn proud of having created these bad boys:



using Photoshop Elements, old badge designs, YouTube tutorials and some sticky-back plastic?

Brace yourselves, friends: I'm now so darn proud that I've created my very own gifs in Photoshop from personal videos!


{It's probably wise not to ask why I was videoing my own
feet though...}

Pinterest Pin of the Week


Weekly Weblinks

Literary Linkage

Non-literary Linkage



...I'll summarise next week as soon as I have time and body strength enough to do so. Wish me luck, won't ya?

qb xx