Keeping you up to date with events, new products and news from Barefoot Studio and team Nordic Walk and newest baby - Barefoot Nordic Walking Club!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dawn's first blog!!!

Well, I’m long overdue to write a contribution to this blog, but better late than never as they say!!

We have a month to go until the 4 Inns walk and the whole team is feeling exited anticipation. I tend to O.D. on the excitement factor…an unfortunate character defect, which thankfully the rest of the team are willing to be fabulously forgiving about!!

Back in September when Captain K. first issued us with our training schedule we knew we would be having a trial run of the course, and last weekend we did just that. We knew this weekend would be crucial preparation. Our navigational decisions have to be made well in advance of the big day to avoid wasting any time. I have to confess that navigation is not really my strong point. As someone who has been known to get lost in a department store I don’t feel I have the necessary skills to bring to the group. (Recipe for Mushroom Wellington anyone??)

Any how, off we went to the beautiful Peak district to suss out the course and bravely face the unknown, picking up Karen’s brother David en route, as he has taken part in the race twice, brave man. Brave for doing the race twice, oh yes, but even braver for being willing to put up with us four chicks for the weekend!! Our trusty team supporter, driver and doughnut fetcher AL got us to the youth hostel safe and sound and pumped full of sugar and caffeine. (Ta Al!!) By early Saturday we were raring to go!!

Saturday was hard work. We had anticipated that the terrain would be on a par with the Black Mountains here in Wales, but it was much more challenging. It was hard work, it was muddy and peaty and exhausting and cold and wet. But Oh! My! God! It was beautiful!!

True to form I was the first one to fall into a peat bog. Up to my thighs in the stuff but gleefully happy none the less. (Never got dirty as a kid!!) Thanks to Karen’s David my micro-navigation phobia is on the mend and I can now comfortably watch Captain K and Sue do things with a map and compass without breaking into a sweat. Excellent progress!! (Forever- in debt to you David!!)

Whilst courageously negotiating ourselves around the moorland’s I was given the important job of helping our lovely Paula count metres. This proved very handy in keeping me focussed as I can tend to get a bit blissed out in the wilds and skip along happily singing to self….hence the falling into the peat bog. Captain K and Sue and Paula were all fabulous and well – at least I was happy. The views were breathtaking. Far too stunning for me to describe and something I will never forget. Awesome!!

Saturday night was pretty awesome too as Captain K made an uncharacteristic deviation from the rules and allowed her team to have some booze. Yey!! I had two pints for rehydration purposes of course, and started to feel like I was on holiday!!

Sunday we did part two, over Kinder Scout. For months this part of the course has filled us with apprehension. Just saying the name of the place was enough for me to want to retreat to a duvet. But by now I had consumed so many stimulants I felt oddly enthusiastic. Bring it on!!

It went up and up and then it went up some more. Following David’s instructions we were searching for a path that we would `only see when we were on top of it’. And so up we went. Part of our training involves the discipline of walking as a team; however no amount of `Karen dead eye’ was going to prevent me getting up that mountain in great haste. I had only two hours sleep and the higher we got the weaker my knees became as vertigo kicked in. We eventually found what David convinced us was a path and onwards and upwards we went.

It was soooooo worth it. The scenery took my breath form me. It didn’t matter that it was freezing and wet. I have never seen such beauty. I could have stayed there all day, but had to be content with having a quick wee and a cereal bar as we had a schedule to stick too.

Alan was fab. Meeting us at what will be our checkpoints with hot drinks and snacks. Sue was brilliant with her boundless possitivity. Karen was amazing leading us on and keeping the team spirits up, as was Paula who has this tremendous gift of making sure we all feel safe, happy and have something yummy to cook in the week. And as for David who selflessly gave us his weekend and most importantly believes we can, and will accomplish this…. we are not worthy. Thankyou!!

It’s getting close now. March will be an alcohol free, my body is a temple month, and we are almost there. Keep in mind that in spite of all the fun we are having, beauty we are seeing and new skills we are learning, our motivation is to raise money for Macmillan Nurses. All of the team have seen the awfulness of cancer up close, and are passionate about raising money for Macmillan. Macmillan nurses help those facing the unimaginable to cope with dignity and strength. Please, please make a donation to our appeal today; you will be doing a great thing.

Till next time
X Dawn Lee

'Leapt up hills, can't imagine what the problem was...'

Well, not quite, and emotionally and physically it was a roller coaster for me! The terrain on Saturday was difficult for me, slippy flat slabs have been laid to prevent erosion on the Pennine Way, and I could feel myself tensing as we traversed them, the slight drizzle adding to their greasy surface.
David's short cuts, whilst trimming substantial portions off the length of the walk, involved plopping in and out of peat bogs - a bit like walking through gigantic vats of Christmas pudding - and then horrible tussocky long grass, where I could never quite tell where my feet were landing. The subsequent constant twisting and modifying my footing played havoc with my hip (replaced a couple of years ago), my leg ached and I found myself using my sound right leg as a 'jack' to go uphill, and a brake coming down. That also meant using my right arm to compensate for the left leg, and by the time we got to the trip point above Doctors Gate, I was so miserable it was all I could do not to burst into tears. We re-joined the main path, all my aches and pains fled and my confidence began to return.
Luckily, that was the end of the day's walking, as it would be too dark to go over Kinder, and time for some serious considerations.
I knew that I had to be sensible about my own health, that nothing was worth losing the mobility I'd fought so hard for, but after some team talks, David assured us that we'd crossed the worst of the terrain, gave us some top teambuilding tips, and I mentally prepared myself for the following day.
Which was great!
Ok, it was uphill - in some places almost vertical - and apparently my face was a picture when the hill above the dam was pointed out - 'What - all of it?????"
But I managed a reasonable speed uphill, particularly as I was made to go in front, and I felt so much better that the previous day was beginning to feel like a horrible dream.
The weekend was a huge mental and physical step forward.
We couldnt have done it without either of our men - Al was the most amazing support driver, sourced fresh doughnuts (on a Sunday!), fixed the van, put the heating and the kettle on, drove us up and down titchy little roads without complaint, and all the way there and back - over 530 miles.
And David also needs a medal for keeping us on track both physically and mentally - snapping us back to reality when our silly songs and ditties threatened to get out of hand, and constantly informing and guiding us across the huge variety of terrain, which he knows like the back of his hand.
We are re-doing it in a fortnight. Trying an alternative route over the first half, checking our navigation over Kinder again. We'll have Al, but we won't have David.......
Sue x

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tried hard - could do better.

Sunshine! Almost forgotten what that's like.... as planned, Dawn & I decided to do a short hill walk whilst Karen and Paula spent the day researching the Wednesday Nordic Walk at Merthyr Mawr (check it out: It was beautiful up on the hills - and incredibly atmospheric to see the clouds dipping over the peaks. Until the clouds overtook us on the final stretch and we walked along in the eerie silence with our pole tips the only noise, clattering occasionally over the flat stones. The ridge drops off scarily into white nothingness to the right - I don't remember the path being quite as close to the edge as that!
Dawn strode easily ahead of me for the whole route - about 12 miles. Bless her, she stopped to wait for me countless times, and I fell behind almost instantly. I was so slow going uphill - and even slower going down - all the confidence in my footing seemed to have ebbed away, my knees hurt, I seemed to have no energy, and I began to have real doubts about my ability to walk 45 miles in One Day.
Sipping hot chocolate in the car at the end, I was very quiet.
The thought of slowing the other girls up so much that we all fail to finish felt like a horrible reality, and one I didn't want to contemplate. I thought of doing the route again on Weds, see if I can improve before we all took off for the Big Weekend on Friday night - when we check out the route over 2 days.
Dropped Dawn off and before I'd even reached home, I'd had a pep talk from Karen. She winkled out of me the fact that I'd not finished working in the studio, where Al is doing a major re-fit, until 11.30pm the previous night. That I'd been backwards and forwards to Ikea TWICE with flatpack furniture, and ripped half the studio to bits during the day.....that doesn't sound like a REST DAY!!!! she said. I didn't tell her that we hadn't had time to stop for dinner either, and had made do with a sandwich and kept on working...
Massive Wake up call for me -
1. I totally underestimated today's walk - ONLY 10 miles, I'd said several times the day before. I'll be back to finish working on the studio in the afternoon, I said. I've already done the 20 milers, 10 miles is nothing!!!! hurr hurr hurr.
2. I've not managed to get my nutrition sorted and without planning and shopping I've made do - bad move.
3. Underestimated effects of Trade Fair, plus a week of standing packing afterwards and not getting enough walking in during the day. (the dog isn't happy either)
So. Monday morning. A sadder, wiser Tigger.
My body is a temple. Eat and sleep properly. Do my pilates. Don't overdo it.
Look out for the apres weekend blog, when I say - leapt up hills, can't imagine what the problem was last week. xx

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where I am now

Training has stuttered somewhat for me with a week out to do a trade fair. I never realised how hard it was going to be to suddenly stop training. My back ached. I woke up one morning barely able to turn my neck. Since then, standing all day in a trade stand has given way to standing all day packing the orders - and my poor old body DOES NOT LIKE IT! All sorts of bits of me are twanging and pinging on a daily (hourly!) basis. I haven't had time to go shopping since we came back from the show, so I'm trying hard to eat properly but not succeeding as well as I ought.
Of course, being me, I haven't eased myself gradually back into training, but carried on exactly where I left off, with almost grim determination that with less than 7 weeks to go I don't let myself down at this late stage. But I feel leaden, heavy-bodied, with no spring at all. My right toe joint is killing me. My left heel is also killing me (must ring Delme - our miracle working physio) And this time next weekend we are travelling up to walk the whole route over 2 days. Which is no mean feat by itself.
Wish me luck. I'm going to try and do a walk of a decent length this weekend - get my confidence back, stretch my legs and get out into those hills and refresh my head.