Four weeks ago today was my last day at work in Telford. It’s gone so fast, it’s bizarre! I wonder if it’s because my time is now spent writing, running, working out, and just spending time outside on the beautiful Isle of Eigg on the west coast of Scotland, rather than constantly counting down the days and hours till 5pm on Friday so i can get outdoors and explore… Most of the time, I have no concept of what day it is even. Days are judged on whether it’s ‘boat day’, in which case we’ll walk down to the shop and stock up on food and have a natter to the locals, and the weather. If it’s sunny, we’re off hiking and exploring. If it’s raining, we’re sitting in and getting work done. Life is so far removed from what I was doing last month, but at the same time it feels like I’ve been here and living this life forever.
Anyways, enough of the philosophising. What I’ve actually been doing is trying desperately to get fit! I have two big challenges coming up in May and I’ve got a lot of work to do!
Firstly, I’m going to be cycling from London to Paris in under 24 hours (hopefully!) with Challenge Sophie and 199 other people. Considering I’ve never even been on a road bike, let alone cycled that sort of distance on one, I’m very much hoping that my strong runners legs (not really that strong) and time spent in the mountain bike saddle will help me through it. Training for road biking on an island with about 6 miles of road (and I still don’t have a road bike) is not easy I’m going on the theory that it can’t be tougher than spending 24 hours hiking the Shropshire Hills as I did on the Longmynd Hike – particularly the last 12 miles whilst defrosting from a bout of hypothermia. It’s all about the mindset. Maybe… Of course, I may just end up crying in a hedge 50 miles from Paris but I guess we’ll find out. Incidentally, if anyone happens to want to ship a road bike and turbo trainer to the Isle of Eigg for me, I’d be forever indebted!
The next event I have lined up for May is a biggie – and was a little unexpected! Some time ago I entered a competition to win a place in the TGO Challenge. This is an event sponsored by The Great Outdoors magazine, and supported by Hanwag in association with Fjallraven and involves a self supported hike from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast. There are a number of sign out points you can start from and you can finish at any point between Fraserburgh and Arbroath, so you can create pretty much any route you want between these points. The average crossing is around 12 days (maximum of 15) and the organisers do carefully point out this is a hike, designed to enjoy the countryside and camaraderie, rather than a race to finish as soon as possible.
Well, of course, I won the place and got Sarah to sign up as my walking partner, and we immediately started a flurry of paperwork in completing all the forms and planning our route. We’re going for a fairly low level route since it’s our first attempt at the challenge but it still involves 12 days, 170 miles and around 5,000 metres of ascent – which for Scotland isn’t bad at all!
Now we’ve submitted our route for validation, all that’s left is to plan our kit. That’s pretty key because of course we have to be self supported and carry everything with us, but this is also a trial run of kit for an even bigger challenge that Sarah and I have planned for June… But I’ll keep you hanging on for the next blog post before I tell you all about that!
So, with all these events coming up, I’ve been off out trail running and hiking, as well as weight lifting at home and going along to circuits and yoga classes in the village hall. Good thing I’m no longer employed, I’d never fit it all in!