So the Moonwalk day has finally arrived. We made it to London and checked into the Travel Inn at Putney. This was when I realised I’d forgotten my socks for heavens sake! Luckily, as we were driving to the hotel I’d seen an M&S and a sports shop close by so we went for a stroll and I now have socks. They’re padded underneath which may prove to be a godsend. We had a quick coffee and seed bar in Pret and I’m now going to try to have a snooze while Commando watches the FA cup final. Can’t wait to meet everyone later…
…Firstly I would like to thank everyone for all their support for the Moonwalk and their lovely comments on WLR and on FB. Secondly, thanks to the lovely AnneP for meeting us all at Victoria, she looks teriffic and is just how I expected. In fact I recognised everyone straight away and I have to say MelC is even prettier than her photos led me to believe and Mr B is smaller and more manic. Finally, a huge thank you to all the people who sponsored me. After all, this is not just about walking, getting fit and pushing myself to the limit, it is to raise funds to fight breast cancer. Without the sponsors it would all be pointless.
Kudos to AnneP trying to pretend she wasn’t embarassed by us flashing our bras on the station concourse for our pre race photo shoot, especially when it was full of Man City fans celebrating their win in the FA Cup. We looked up and they were all standing on the balcony leering at us. Also to Mr Bumble and MelC for joining me. It’s possible they will never forgive me for suggesting the Moonwalk in the first place.
After a coffee and a snack, we left AnneP and made our way to Hyde Park where we spent a rather nervous pre walk couple of hours in the big pink tent. Mr Bumble was dashing about in typical Mr Bumble style and putting the finishing touches to her costume. She was sewing things on on the train and I think in the loos at Victoria too. She was certainly in there long enough. MelC and I were fairly quiet and contemplative, mainly because it was already past our bed time and we were tired before we even set off. I have to say now that Mr Bumble is a totally unstoppable ball of energy. She is also used to staying up all night because she has an insomnia problem. MelC is another skinny minnie, although taller than me so more like a goddess in an Indiana Jones hat. Both of them looked amazing.
As I was in a faster group than MelC and Mr Bumble I set of before them but got held up by the first loo stop. The queues were horrendous and I kept looking at my watch as the time ticked by. All in all I waited over twenty minutes. Not long after I spotted a lot of women a little way off the path in the trees and realised that was exactly what I should have done. After that I gathered almost everyone else was giving up on proper loos because of the very long queues and taking advantage of various secluded trees and bushes.
Then came the first road crossing. Unlike the London Marathon the roads are not closed for the Moonwalk so waiting for pedestrian crossings took up quite some time and was frustrating. The first one came as a bit of a shock, we were still in Hyde Park and couldn’t even see the road or the crossing when everyone stopped moving. Along with all the other first time Moonwalkers, I had no idea why. After a few puzzling minutes we all started walking again only for the same thing to happen a little further on. Eventually, after much stopping and starting, we were within sight of the crossing, the mystery was solved and we crossed the road. All the stopping was making me cold. Although I marched on the spot trying to keep warm it was freezing and I wished I’d worn my parka, with the lining and hood.
Apparently, nor long after MelC and Mr Bumble set off, Mr Bumble was nothing but a dot in the distance and I never saw her on the walk at all. At some point MelC also overtook me, possibly on my loo stop. Stupidly, I wasted a fair bit of energy trying to get past people who were slower than me only to have them catch up with me at the next road crossing. The first half of the walk was a blur of marching women and snatches of conversation heard as I passed by. After mile 11, when the half marathon people left us, it was easier to walk at a decent pace.
Mostly I had no idea where I was although occasionaly I spotted a landmark like the London Eye. In fact I kept spotting the London Eye, I’m sure someone was moving it around to confuse me. We seemed to cross an awful lot of bridges, so much so I’m sure we crossed some of them twice. One bridge started to seem much like another, each a hill to climb, and I wondered just how many times we were going to cross the Thames.
Until about mile nineteen or so I felt great. The landmarks of London spread out before me seemed marvellous and interesting. Then, at around four in the morning, it started to get light and by five it was bright and sunny but still very cold. After that my right knee began to hurt, from the cold I think, and from then on my thighs and feet really began to feel sore. To try to take my mind off my aches and pains I began to calculate where I’d be on my normal training walk and tried to imagine walking up Allbrook Hill towards Eastleigh. Of course this made me want a coffee.
Around about mile twenty or so, it could have been later or earlier because I think I was sleep walking by then, I spotted a familiar Indiana Jones hat just in front of me and bumped into MelC again. We stayed together for the rest of the walk. She was glad of someone to give her a boost and I was glad of someone to keep me awake and take my mind off my aches, pains and coffee cravings. Until then I’d been walking alone with my iPod, which is normal for me but strange when everyone else seemed to be in groups.
At around mile twenty five Commando rang me. He was on his way but was lost. He couldn’t seem to find the finish line and didn’t think he’d be there in time to see me cross it. That was probably my lowest moment. Just one point two miles to go but they might as well have been another twenty. For the last five miles all I could think about was seeing his face amongst the crowd at the end and now it looked as if he wouldn’t be there. I don’t mind admitting I cried, although I tried to hide it from MelC and pretend I didn’t mind at all. In fact I made a joke about Commando getting lost when it is usually me with no sense of direction. The disappointment was bitter.
Probably about ten minutes later he rang again. He’d spotted some women in decorated bras looking a little tired and had followed them. Luckily he didn’t get arrested for this and they were actually Moonwalkers heading for the finish a little further on than us. He said he was near the finish waiting with his phone at the ready. At mile twenty six, with the finish line in sight I heard him call me from the crowd and mustered up a smile for the camera. A few moments later MelC spotted her husband and her tired face broke into a grin too. Until that moment it had been all we could do to put one foot in front of the other. It’s amazing what a boost seeing a loved one can give, even after a night with no sleep walking through the dark, cold streets of London.
Commando scooted off taking a short cut to the finish line and snapped us both crossing. It was such a relief to cross that line and I felt very emotional, especially to see Commando standing there and to collect my medal.
This Moonwalk was something I have always wanted to do and never thought I was capable of. Thanks to the help and encouragement from all of my lovely WLR friends I had the self belief to join and the energy and faith to complete it. Walking in the dark, after my bed time was far harder than my daytime training walks to Winchester and back. There were a few times during the night when I heard the familiar American voice in my head urging me on so special thanks to AnneP for being there in my subconsious.
Finally, I left MelC to pick up her bags and set of to find Commando at the exit. He was waiting with Mr Bumble and her husband. Mr Bumble was all for us all going off somewhere to have a celebratory breakfast. Much as I would have loved to stay longer and spend some more time together, I was almost asleep on my feet, feeling very emotional and a little teary so Commando and I made our way back to the hotel (by taxi) and, after a shower and coffee set off for home. I can’t believe Mr Bumble looked like she could go round again. I wish I had half her energy.
After a shower and a change of clothes we jumped into the car and set off for Southampton. Understandably, I slept for most of the journey but I woke up long enough for a stop at Fleet Services for a big cooked breakfast. When we were almost at Winchester Commando asked if I wanted to be dropped off so I could walk home. Funny enough I said no. I couldn’t wait to get home to my bed.