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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 21: Ehra to Neuferchau

Distance: 23 km

Speed: 4,6 kmph

Time: 5h3m

Soundtrack: Symphony No 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven

Ladies and gentlemen, today was a walk in the park!

Not literally, it was still 23 km and took me through some fields, some woods, along some roads, etc., before I reached my destination. But, it was EASY.

I was saying to people yesterday that the distance doesn’t really matter because at some point the legs are all just too long and the last part sucks regardless. I’d like to amend that statement… It’s true, to an extent. But knowing I have 23 km instead of almost 10 km more definitely helps keep me motivated. There’s a myriad of other factors at play too – like weather, scenery, and mood, but distance matters too.

Today was warm and sunny (a bit too much almost without my cap), I walked through the woods a good bit, and I felt calm and present with little to no anxiety. And for the second day in a row, all the paths were where they’re supposed to be.

Another thing that definitely helps is having fewer blisters. I only have one big fat one left now, that’s been invading territory left and right like a greedy little dictator on the inside of my heel. But this morning I put a Compeed bandaid over it, and it’s honestly a world of difference from generic store brand ones. I’m not being paid to say this (but Compeed if you’re reading this, feel free to contact me for an endorsement ;-), it’s just fact. I won’t say it’s pain free but it is SO MUCH BETTER.

And… I don’t think I could have had today without yesterday. There’s been this anxiety that’s been building up that I have had to try and control a little bit in order to be able to go on at all, but I think maybe the dam needed to burst. It was like a cleansing, a katharsis, and today I woke up and was ready to move on. So yesterday was hard, but perhaps necessary.

I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and rainbows from hereon out, and I have two slightly longer days ahead of me again now, but I definitely feel much more optimistic. And I am once again comforted by the fact that my last 6 days are all under 25 km.

And guys, it’s day 21, meaning I’m over 2/3rds of the way there. Two days ago I saw my first road sign for Berlin. 9 more days, one of which is rest, and 6 of which are less than 25 km. I can totally do this!

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 20: Hohne to Ehra

Distance: 32 km

Speed: 4,7 kmph

Time: 6h44m

Soundtrack: Fix You by Coldplay

I’m kinda liking this aesthetic I have going with beautiful idyllic pictures of nature juxtaposed with me whining about my feet and how lonely I am. Aren’t you? No? Well too bad, it’s my project and I’ll whine if I want to…

I actually did have quite a bit of woodsy quiet bits today and I think every single forest path my app indicated I should take existed. Which is good, otherwise I would have been in trouble. So I guess I was right to trust the universe.

And right to trust my body too, because I’m here, I’m alive, and while not exactly kicking can still sort of hobble a little bit.

Today’s first challenge was dealing with anxiety. My already existing anxiety regarding if the map would be correct, and the added anxiety of various incidents that kind of compounded it. It’s been a bit of a weird day and I cried a lot (anyone who knows me well knows that I cry a lot normally, so this in itself is not alarming, though I’ve cried unusually little during this trip so I guess I had some saved up… )

I’ve not written in that much detail about travelling solo for this long with anxiety, and I don’t want to go into too much detail now either, as I still have 10 days left to go – and writing about it gives power to it.

But let’s just say that when you have some anxiety and a vivid imagination you may find yourself walking through the woods, heart hammering, cold sweat, needing the toilet, because somewhere in the distance you hear what you believe is rifles going off, and there was a roped off piece of path nearby. Nevermind the fact that you with your bright pink coat can not be easily mistaken for say a deer or a bird, particularly not when insistently humming to yourself – there could be an accident. And let’s not forget about that one episode of Criminal Minds (or actually, let’s.. ) – maybe someone out there in the woods *wants* to shoot me? And then you may find yourself going past a creepy (abandoned?) building enclosed by a tall barbed wire fence with a hole in it, and you may construct a story about an escaped criminally insane lunatic roaming the woods. You know, normal, soothing stuff like that.

It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t felt completely in myself today. It actually started last night when I thought I was getting sick. And I’ve been feeling this heavy fog in my head, a dizzyness, lack of presence, startled by insects, creaking doors, let alone the thought of escaped mental patients. You’d think the walking would help bring the presence back, but it just didn’t really. I also did some energy tapping under way (as I often do) to try and centre myself, but it also didn’t have as much of an effect as it usually does.

And I just kept seeing weird things. Like this cage/shed with a lock on it and a weird machine inside, a statue of a bear (yes I’m sure it was a statue) in front of a hanging canvas in the middle of nowhere, these eerie looking trees…

It was just not a day conducive to good mental health. So I sat down under a tree and bawled into my bag of baby carrots, as I’m sure we’ve all done at some point in our lives.

And then I cried some more on the bathroom floor and in the shower. I think I’m just exhausted. And starting to miss my man and my cats (and my house) terribly.

The thing is, the walking is painful and it’s hard, but I’ve been doing it so long now that I’m almost convinced I can just continue doing it. It’s everything around it that’s doing my head in.

That being said I did still find moments of joy in the stillness and beauty of the forest and the smell of the pine trees (or as J would have said: “oooh, Christmas trees!” – I really miss you, man… ). But maybe not as much as I would have with 25 km less to walk, a smaller pack and a companion.

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 19: Celle to Hohne

Distance: 24 km

Speed: 4,9 kmph

Time: 4h55m

Soundtrack: Pack Up by Eliza Dolittle

I had a pretty good start to the day today, though I was reluctant to leave Celle and the puppies. Nevertheless, adventure beckoned.

Weather conditions were quite perfect for walking, really. About 15 degrees and partly sunny.

I took a chance on a forest path again and it paid off, as the path did actually for the most part exist, and there was a good long stretch of me just walking through the forest, lots of green, interesting bird calls and soft ground. This, basically:

And a little of this:

Peaceful and idyllic, and smelled great too. So after I got over the fear of being completely alone in the middle of nowhere, I got on pretty well for a while.

The rest day has definitely done both my feet and my spirits some good, though after the usual 10-12 km it once again started to get hard. And even though it was a shorter day I was almost limping at the end, still kind of am.

So the truth is, while my stay in Celle was incredibly lovely, and in a way quite motivating, there’s also a part of me that feels like if I was going to quit before the end, this would be the time. I’ve already gone a really long distance and people (myself included) seem sufficiently impressed. I feel like I have changed and have achieved some of what I was looking for. Why should I continue to torture my poor feet and knees and hips like this?

Of course I shouldn’t even let myself entertain these thoughts, I shouldn’t let them in. But when you’re walking, on the road all day, you tend to let all the thoughts in, to some extent.

I don’t really want to quit. I want to finish. And I think that maybe I can.

I think that maybe I would have managed to walk further today if I knew that I had to, and it only felt so bad and I only felt so tired because I knew I was almost done for the day.

But truthfully, tomorrow scares me. Not just because of the distance (somewhere in the neighbourhood of 32-34 km), but because it sort of goes through nowhere. I don’t really pass through any towns after the first 10 km, and if the path ceases to exist it could end up being a very long way around indeed. There is seemingly an option to bus the first 10 km or so, but that is a bit of a cop-out (towards the end though there is no such option…). I guess it’s time to trust the universe again, and trust that my incredible body can get me through this one too.

Fortunately it’ll be my second to last 30+ day, and this time they’re not right after each other, so that should help.

Wish me luck!

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 9: Meppen to Herzlake

Distance: 26,5 km

Time: 6h

Speed: 4,4 km

Soundtrack: Sonne by Rammstein

So yes it’s been a sunny day, not a drop of rain. It’s been a bit of a mixed bag as usual, with some lovely bits in the woods towards the beginning, some less lovely bits along the highway, and some getting lost and some wading through a sea of nettles. And also: ice cream.

I finally got into a bit of proper forest today, which was wonderful. Because of my anxiety I always kind of need to get over the fact that I’m in the woods by myself and if something should happen to me there’s no one around to help, but I usually settle in after a while, and I finally started to feel some of that peace and that belonging, and just being, which I have been looking forward to. And then I got lost. 😉

The hiking app is good for leading you through bits of woods instead of all along the highways which may be the shortest route but also the most soul-killing. What it’s not so good at is actually knowing where there are paths. Unless path is code for “crash haphazardly through the undebrush and get twigs stuck everywhere”. The app is also responsible for the sea of nettles. But by the time the path started to disappear and become nettles I’d already invested kilometres and was way too tired to go back and find a way to circle around. Fortunately my relatively thick leggings took the brunt of it and I got through with only a couple of stings.

I also walked through a cute little village called Häselunne, where I got an ice cream cone, which was very delicious. I’m very into sweets the last few days and devoured a snickers yesterday too. I wonder if it’s the quick energy my body is responding to or if it’s the onset of my period (yes, that’ll be an extra fun thing to deal with over the next few days – but it does come around about once a month, so might as well get it over with!)

Now I’m in an odd sort of place, called Herzlake. It seems to consist of a hotel, a bakery, a garden centre, a church and a pizzeria. And there’s nice looking houses with well tended gardens wall to wall with abandoned buildings with broken windows. I don’t know quite what to make of it. It’s quite pretty though, when you’re *not* wading through nettles (and also when you’ve had a shower and some pizza). And quiet, which is a nice change again from yesterday. Tomorrow I will be having my first (and only, at least on this trip) couch surfing experience, so looking forward to seeing what that will be like. I’ve messaged a bit with the hosts and they seem like lovely people.

And now it’s time to give these weary feet, and head, some proper rest. Xx

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

Food strategies

I have a new water reservoir now and it fills from the top, so I’m hoping it’ll be sturdier and break less easily. It was 15 euros more expensive, but that’s a small price to pay for some peace of mind.

Maybe because I’m an HSP or maybe because of my history with ED, hunger is quite triggering/challenging for me too, so I also want to be able to feel as food secure as possible. Which is why I accept the tradeoff in added weight to be able to feel like whatever happens I could survive for a while on the food I have with me. I don’t imagine it’ll be much of an issue. It’s mainly an anxiety aid.

All in all I’ll be carrying something like 10,000 calories with me, divided across Wasa sandwiches, mixed unsalted nuts, dried apricots and prunes, and protein bars. I also plan to have an apple or two on me at any given time as it’s a handy fruit to carry, I like them, and they tend to help tide me over between meals more so than other fruits. It may be slightly overkill, but it makes me feel safer.

And I do need to be thrifty as most of my budget goes to housing, so it’s good to have some calorie rich snacks handy.

Speaking of which.. I am someone who aims to eat mainly vegetarian and probably do 80% or so of the time normally. Since starting intuitive eating I have discovered that having rules around food restrictions doesn’t work for me even if it’s based around ethical/environmental concerns. If I tell myself I cannot have meat it becomes a guilt food that I’ll “crack” and end up eating and feeling bad about, so instead I let myself have it once in a while without judgement, when I’m really craving it. I know that I eventually would like to move away from meat completely – ideally I would be vegan, but I’m not a perfect human being, and food is a complicated thing for me, and this is where I’m at right now. I accept that.

During this trip however, because of limited resources and limited options I’m just going to focus on getting food that is cheap and filling. If there’s a reasonable veg option available I will probably still pick that, but it’s not my main priority.

I also have 8 bookings that include breakfast, so another strategy is to fill up in the morning on food I’ve already paid for. And it could be a good time to make sure I get some fruit and veg, as that’s quite often part of a hotel/B&B breakfast. Fortunately I’m one of those people who’s usually hungry in the morning.

Generally I think there’s very little chance that I’ll go hungry, but I also think most of the preparation for a journey like this is mental, and if I feel like I have enough food and water, and I have my maps and my spreadsheet and my mobile phone I’ll feel as ready as  I can.

I realise by the way that there’s some measure of doom and gloom in my posts recently. For what it’s worth I do still think I’m very lucky to be able to go on this journey, I’m just really nervous about it all. I think once I start walking for real I will calm down. OR have a full blown panic attack. Time will tell. 😉

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Body Positivity Walk 2019 Mental health and BoPo articles

Go out there and happen to things

.. to paraphrase Leonardo Da Vinci (full quote: “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”).

So… *drumroll*… Yesterday I finished my planning – sort of – for the walk to Berlin. I’ve spent days poring over maps, routes, accommodations, prices, adjusting and re-adjusting. And well the long and the short of it is I have 20 accommodations booked through the month of September, and have inadvertently (because I needed to go where the accommodations were) added 40 km to my route (updated route to come).

This, by the way, means that I’ll be walking a total of 674 kms, averaging 27 km per day of walking. Yikes! Also, that’s almost exactly equal to 16 marathons.

Even though I’m only at 35% of my funding I’ve decided I can still do it, so I’m going to. I’m walking to motherforking Berlin, benches! My ass is going to be broke when I get there, but it’ll be worth it, right? And I already paid for my return train ticket.

So, I should be all giddy with excitement. The overwhelming feelings at the moment however are fear and anxiety. Sure, there’s some positive excitement mixed in there with the dread, but the dread definitely has the upper hand.

Things I’m afraid of (in no particular order):

  • Getting lost (yes, this is bound to happen, probably more than once, but the idea of routinely adding an extra 5-10 km to the existing 30 or so is not appealing)
  • Running out of water WHILE being lost
  • It being the hottest/coldest/wettest September in history (in other words consistently having to deal with extreme weather)
  • Being attacked/mugged
  • Getting injured/having an accident (and being in the middle of nowhere with no phone coverage)
  • My mum became severely allergic to wasps as an adult but was fine as a child. I’ve not been stung by a wasp since I was a child. What if I’m also severely allergic and get stung, in the middle of nowhere and my throat closes up? Or what if I’m deathly allergic to some other random substance I come into contact with when there’s no help to be found?
  • I’m not an experienced hiker. Like, at all. What kind of problems might I run in to that I haven’t even considered (see, I’m also worried that I’m not worried enough – it’s a problem..)?
  • 27 km per day is A LOT. I’m in decent shape, I work out consistently, but I do not routinely go for walks above say 13-14 kms. And my longest hike will be 37 km. Today I walked 20 (with 18 kg backpack) and am sore and limping a little.
  • … which nicely brings me to my biggest fear, which is failing. Not just failing really, but failing spectacularly and early on. What if I do the first day (35 km, nice tough start..) and then simply cannot get out of bed for day 2? What if I’ve gone out there and said to a bunch of strangers (and friends, and family) that I’m going to walk to Berlin, and I actually only walk 5% of the way? I’ve gotten AT LEAST 26 people to believe in me, to fund me even, to do this thing, and I honestly don’t know if I can. Although crowdfunding is buying into an idea or a concept rather than the promise of a finished product, I definitely still feel a strong obligation to my backers, and feel like I’ll be letting them all down if I don’t complete the journey. And I’d be letting myself down too. I had in my mind’s eye this epic adventure, this amazing project that would get us all talking more and thinking more about how all bodies are good and all bodies can move. This project that would be an experience of a lifetime and that would somehow make up for all those times I wanted to go out in the world and do things, but didn’t dare. And instead it becomes another failure. That would make me embarrassed and incredibly sad.

 

….BUT the only thing that would make me sadder would be to not even try. So, I promise you this: whatever happens, and however afraid I get, I will give it my best shot.

 

Peace out!