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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 29: Nauen to Staaken (Berlin)

Distance: 22,5 km

Speed: 5,2 kmph

Time: 4h20m

Soundtrack: Berlin by Briskeby (for obvious reasons… )

So, I am in Berlin! I am still on the very outskirts and still have a final 17 km to go tomorrow to reach Berlin HBH and my final destination for this journey, but whatever happens now I can officially say I walked to Berlin.

I was a little concerned that I’d miss the sign, as I did when I crossed the border into Germany, while chasing paths through the pouring rain – but lo and behold, there it was:

A few more steps and I was officially there. I had to stifle a giddy, heady, almost mad laughter that started bubbling up in me. On the surface of it this project is kind of insane. Just another madcap idea I had. The difference being this time I actually followed through.

Many thoughts on the project, my experiences and what made me actually do it this time are yet to come. Once the dust has settled. Once I’ve taken my final walk (you know, for now, not for ever – that sounded a bit dark just there). Once I’ve had some time to rest, reflect and regroup.

As predicted there was pretty heavy rain today as well, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the previous two days. Today I walked with a kind of lightness, a joy (though yes the wet feet were icky) and a sense of absolute certainty that it would all be OK.

Even though I am in Berlin and even though I’ve walked more or less exactly the distance (635 km) I set out to when I first planned this project, I feel it’s still important to walk the last 17 tomorrow. And not only because my man should be waiting for me at the train station roughly when I arrive (though that does add to the feeling of anticlimax I’d experience if I were to say take the bus). Only then will I feel completely finished and like I have closure. Like I truly did the thing.

It’s supposed to be 11 mm of rain and winds of 40 kmph. But do you know what I say to that? COME AT ME, BRO!

(I’m probably going to want to eat those words come morning time, but just let me have this one, will you? I like just walked 635 km, mmmkay?)

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 28: Liepe to Nauen

Distance: 22 km

Speed: 5,2 kmph

Time: 4h10m

Soundtrack: Radio Ga Ga by Queen

Today was harder than expected. Partly because I expected it to be dry. It was not. I wouldn’t be surprised if it rained just as much as yesterday, just in shorter and more intense bursts. So there was some running and hiding under trees. And some being grateful that the rain cover of my pack seems to work well.

At one point I could look in one direction and see a clear, sunny day, and turn my head about 90 degrees and see a storm brewing.

I also ran into a couple of “path does not exist” issues again, one of which lengthened my walk by 1,5 km. After the app had sort of regained my trust by guiding me without fault through several forests, it’s starting to get unreliable again.

I also saw a dead raccoon, and I saw one yesterday too and a beaver the day before that. I have yet to see live versions of either animal, and now that I’m in an urban area again I suspect I probably won’t.

Aaand now that I have finally defeated mister blister in combat (he was a worthy adversary and put up quite a fight), my other foot is starting to hurt all over the place. I suspect walking for two days in wet shoes and socks hasn’t helped the foot situation much.

BUT, I made it through another day, and I only have about 40 very rainy and windy kms to go to Berlin – which I could probably even do in one day if I was keen on really killing my feet before I get there. But I’m not, so though I’m impatient, I’m still thankful it’s split in two. But I’m so close now I can taste it.

What does Berlin taste like, you ask? It tastes like joy, pride, humility and gratitude.

And now I think it’s time for me to go see what the Asian food in the restaurant downstairs tastes like, as I feel like it’s calling to me… Laters!

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 27: Rathenow to Liepe

Distance: 20,5 km

Speed: 5,6 kmph

Time: 3h40m

Soundtrack: Why Do You Love Me by Garbage*

*Because of the text “I get back up and I do it again, I get back up and I do it again… “

So I remember reading a while ago that rainy hikes are slower than non-rainy ones. Which on the one hand is surprising, because you’d assume people were more motivated to move and reach their destination if it’s raining, but on the other hand is also kinda understandable as it does feel heavier to walk in the rain and maybe you’re wearing more gear to protect yourself from the weather, etc.

Well, I always knew I was exceptional… 😉

Seriously though, today was basically just a wet slog and I was determined to get through it as quickly as I could. Which turned out to be very quickly indeed.

Today there was no stopping to admire the scenery or listen to unfamiliar bird calls. Today was only me, the road, the rain and Harry Potter (I actually have barely listened to audiobooks so far but today it was necessary). It was wet, clammy and uncomfortable.

I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to hop on the train again this morning and avoid another 12 km or so, but it seems silly to “cheat” at this stage, and I am still determined to see it through. And y’all should know by now that I can be pretty determined…

So the best thing I can say about today is that it was over quickly. I am warm, dry and clean once again, and have even had some veggie soup that my Airbnb hosts offered me. And I only have 3 days to go…

Which is a good thing, because I am getting so TIRED. I feel like I could go to sleep right now (17:30) and sleep till morning. I just sat here and zoned out for a good 30 minutes while writing up this blog. I wake up every morning feeling kinda hung over, even though I’ve not been drinking. I could be dehydrated I guess, but I’ve been pretty good at drinking lots of water. I think it’s just the accumulated effort of the last month that is getting to me. But I can totally get through the next 3 days. And then I might end up seeing more of the inside of a Berlin hotel room than the actual city, but that’s OK. Apparently you can get by train from Amsterdam to Berlin in only 6 hours. 😉

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 16: Steimbke to Marklendorf

Distance: 25 km

Speed: 5 kmph

Time: 5 h

It’s funny, every night when I sit down to write, I have to think: where am I again now? Where was I this morning? I wonder, does one ever get used to this?

Today, instead of EOTD Sarah you get Bath Sarah. And Bath Sarah is
definitely one of the superior Sarahs.

There is something magical about a hot bath, especially when you’ve been outside doing physical activity all day.

I feel soft and clean and warm, and like everything is going to be OK.

I am still a bit worried about my feet and I have some disturbing pictures of them that I’m not posting because I don’t want you all to vomit. But I’m hoping the fact that I got here quite early so my feet get some more rest, combined with a hot bath (and maybe another before bed or in the morning.. ) and another night of Farmer Oliver’s herb compress will help.

Tomorrow I do have almost 30 km again, but then I get my next rest day in a town called Celle. Huzzah! I’ll be staying in somebody’s house there, so hopefully there’ll be some more interesting people to chat with.

Right now I have a big-ass house to myself, which is also nice in a different way. It’s also slightly unsettling to be alone in a big and unfamiliar house. There’s all sorts of sounds you’re not used to, clicking and humming.

Today was honestly kind of uneventful. It rained in the morning for a couple hours, but only a light rain, which spurred me on. There were few places that were convenient to sit down so I just kept walking most of the time. Basically along the same road 95% of the way here. Dull, but quick.

And now I’ve just had a prefab chili that I bought because I didn’t feel like making a meal and there’s nothing nearby. It did the trick. That’s the kind of day it has been I guess – a medium day. A utility day. Except for the bath, which was glorious. And so was eating chocolate in the bath. Would recommend.

I’m interested to see what Celle will be like, and hope I have some energy the day after tomorrow to have a poke about.

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 4: Kampen Zuid to Nieuwleusen (reverse)

Predicted distance: 30 km
Actual distance: 30,5 km
Time: 6h 40m
Speed: 4,6 kmph
Soundtrack: Set Fire to the Rain by Adele

So yes I didn’t reverse yesterday but decided to do it today as heavy rainfall was predicted and frankly the less time I have to sit with wet clothes on public transport, the better. And boy was that a good idea!

Not only because there was indeed a lot of rain, but – as those who have seen my IG post will know, it gave me a much needed positive start to the day after feeling kind of down and out last night.

I started out walking along a beautiful country road, where there were cute thatched houses with shutters for the windows and apple trees and flowers in the gardens, even several enclosures of grazing and frolicking deer. And that good old bastion of Dutchness – the windmill (but the cute old-fashioned kind this time):

deer2thatched housewindmill

Basically it was a Dutch Disney movie.

And I am thankful that I got my fairytale moment (or hour actually), because things got a lot worse from there.

My feet are giving me more and more trouble every day, so the pain starts in earlier, and I spent hours hobbling along the motorway in the rain. It was… Rough. I’m sort of rethinking the rain poncho, as though it does let me move more freely than a full jacket and pants, it is also quite open, and in this windy country that leaves me a little more exposed than I’d like. So I pretty much got completely soaked. And after hours of that, when it finally stopped, and I was starting to get dry again, one final shower came down just before I reached the train station as a fuck you.

But, I survived this too. And every day I get through, I feel a little stronger, and a little surer that I can do this. I’m still hoping that the transformation will come, and that at some point it stops getting harder – and, dare I say it? Maybe even gets easier? That being said I have yet to walk a full day with my big pack. And my feet now hurt so bad that my gait is starting to resemble that of Tom, the hobbling barkeep of the Leaky Cauldron.

On the third hand, I didn’t think I was going to make it through yesterday, or today…

Oh, and in case this weather left anyone in doubt – autumn has definitely begun:

pumpkins.jpeg

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body positivity walk Body Positivity Walk 2019

Test walk 2 – rain, pain and blackberries

Distance: 19.36 km
Time: 4h14m
Speed: 4.57 kmph
Soundtrack: Rammstein – Ich Will

So I was not looking forward to today’s walk for several reasons. I’m on my period and it was scheduled to rain all day. But I told myself that on the way to Berlin I would surely encounter more or less these exact conditions so I might as well try and get a feel for them. The third reason I was not terribly keen was that my little toes have been quite sore ever since my walk on Monday.

Well, I patched myself up a little, put a rain poncho over my backpack and out I stepped. And boy did it hurt. I mean like already the first step was pretty much “owowow my toes!”. I considered turning back several times within the first 5 km, but told myself I better go on a bit, as surely I’d also encounter pain during the actual walk and then I wouldn’t have the option to just turn back.

ohwellselfie.jpeg

Now I don’t have a very high threshold for pain  – I’ve heard it attributed to HSPs, but I also know HSPs who have very high pain thresholds, so it could also be a Sarah thing. So I don’t generally subscribe to “no pain, no gain”. I do enjoy a few aches the day after a hard workout, as I feel it means I made an effort, but generally pain is a thing I try to avoid. So this was kind of a rough trip.

Though I guess there is something to be said for the “it’s all in your head” thing, as not long after those 5 km I started to manage to push through it and just walk. The exception being any time I stopped – even for a minute – and then started walking again. At some point I thought my toe had actually exploded.

I wasn’t actually fussed about the rain. You get wet and you get on with it. Plus it looked really lush and green out and smelled amazing. And I had pretty good cover under a tree for my lunch break. It’s definitely a different mood than walking in the sun though. I would have expected that I’d walk faster in the rain but I guess the whole toe debacle prevented that.

watercrossing.jpeg

Though I enjoyed parts of today’s walk – the scenery in particular, it did worry me a little that it was such a struggle. I think I only got through the last 5 km thanks to Rammstein on my Bluetooth headphones and the sweet, juicy blackberries I picked along the way. Could I have gone another 5-15 km today? I don’t think so. Maybe, if I really didn’t have any other options. I am hoping that my feet will heal properly and get used to the shoes, though I may have bitten over more than I can chew here.

blackberries2.jpeg

So, because of this concern and the fact that my current funding level is at 30%, I am starting to consider plan B.

Plan B is going from Amsterdam to Antwerp, with a detour along the coast, making it roughly 200 km. Which is something I could do in 2 weeks with less extreme dailies, and maybe even at the current funding level. Plus, as I think I’ve established before: Sarah + sea = happiness.

I’ve not completely abandoned the Berlin plan though, and will see how things go over the next week. Rather than a let-down it honestly feels good to have a plan B and to know that I am not failing, I am just making adjustments to make sure I will be able to complete my project one way or another.

Upwards and onwards,

xx Sarah