Well, most of the aches and pains have come and gone. After all, it has been over a week since I walked the 12K from Adelaide City to Glenelg during the City To Bay Fun Run/Walk this year.
And, before any of you who know me (and my fitness levels!) start choking on something, no, this isn't the start of a new, healthy me. And, even though this is a great annual charity event in my home city, I have to admit that I wasn't feeling very noble when I basically got signed up to this under a lot of... aherm... peer pressure.
Truth be told: The idea of doing any kind of long distance walking terrified me because I know that I'm not exactly a fit person. The thought of being in a lot of pain... and worse, going through a lot of pain while getting humiliated... just didn't sit well with me. Even if it was for a good cause!
So, when my colleagues asked for volunteers for the walk a few weeks ago, I am embarrassed to say that I was one of the first to say, "No, thanks!"
Little did I know that it wasn't the last I'd hear of it.
I'm not going to share the details of what some of them did to tease me in to joining the team, but needless to say, I caved.
I wish I could've come up with some excuse other than, "I'm too unfit to join," but I've never been good with coming up with excuses (Yes, I was the sort of person who actually gave my real number to guys who used to ask when I was still single. Silly huh?).
My anxiety about doing the walk just kept building up that I think I practically made myself sick, as I did end up with a cold a couple of days before the day. However, I know that anything less than a burst appendix or a car accident wouldn't have sufficed at the time as a way to get out of walking that very long and excruciating 12ks.
On the day of the walk, I showed up. Nervous and shivering with cold, but willing to see just how far I could go. I told myself that I'd just walk until I can no longer walk. I seriously didn't think I could finish.
In my mind, I'd probably be giving up by 3Ks. If I reached 6Ks without collapsing, I'd be over the moon.
Out of an office of 12 employees, there were 6 of us who ended up signing up (some with their respective partners/friends). However, one had to drop off.
By the time we reached past 3Ks, 3 of our 5-person team (with folks joining them) ended up walking further and further from me and my female colleague (and designated "walking partner" of the day). Well, basically, she and I made a pact that when the other person wants to stop/give up, the other one will join in.
Our initial goal was to get to 6K. And, for some reason, we were still quite happy and somewhat energised by the time we reached that halfway mark.
We said we'll try to get to 9Ks.
It was then that things started looking bleaker by the minute. Every step became painful. It even started pelting down with rain. We were cold, wet, hungry, tired, and in a lot of pain.
Giving up felt like the only option.
By the time we got to 9Ks, a tram ride to the finish line looked horribly tempting.
Instead, we ended up getting ourselves a sausage sizzle and squeezing in a lot of pep talk.
Well, the pep talk was partly about how we'd hate to cop it from our colleagues and friends. Besides, we both announced the fact that we were walking at City 2 Bay in our social media networks (maybe they do help to stay accountable!).
But, mostly we talked ourselves in to finishing because it felt so lame to give up when we were 3/4 of the way through.
So, we found our own way to keep walking -- through aching feet and muscles. We finished and I think we clocked somewhere around 2:35 (yes, it's in the papers!). Just 15 to 20 minutes behind the rest of our team. Not bad, considering we did sit at a bus stop for a few minutes, stopped at the loo (where I nearly blacked out), took photos at the halfway mark, bought sausage sizzle, and even chatted to someone I know who we bumped in to on the way to the finish line...
At the end of the day, we finished the walk. We did what we came to do. Slow and exhausted, but we were jubilant.
Sure, I ended up with fever that afternoon and couldn't get out of bed for the rest of the day...
Sure, I was basically walking at a snail's pace and saying "ow" at every turn for about a couple of days...
But, I actually did it. And survived.
We even sort of celebrated with our 'team', who we met in Glenelg at the end of the walk.
So, what are my Top 5 Take-Aways from this experience?
1. To me, this is a great reminder to never underestimate my capacity to get past my comfort zone. I could've sworn I'd never join a walk. But, thankfully, even if I never sign up for another City 2 Bay, at least I know I've done it before. And I can do something else now that seems way too impossible to do. Like, maybe, parasail or skydive. Heh.
2. If the ultimate goal seems too huge, it's good to find little goals to meet. My first mini goal was to get there on time. Waking up at 5 am on a Sunday morning is not my idea of fun. But, I did it. And, my second goal was to get past 3Ks without passing out. I almost made the 6K my final goal. But... Well, see take-away #1. 🙂
3. When something massive is at hand, it's always nice to have some kind of inspiration. But, if that inspiration disappears out of view, well... Keep making up new ones!
4. Finding a number of good reasons to do something is always helpful. It helps to remind myself why I'm doing something (even if part of that reason is "so I don't get teased about not being a team player" or something or the other).
5. Having a good solid team to keep you going could make or break your resolve to finish something. In my case, even though more than half our team ended up going without us for most of the walk, I was grateful that I had someone who was happy to walk at my pace... Having someone to laugh with, talk to, and just walk beside me without trying to rush me or make me feel bad just made all the difference between giving up and finishing with a smile on my face, even through the pain.
Hmmm... No wonder walks/marathons are often likened to love and life.
And now, the question that I seem to keep getting asked: Will I do it again?
Offhand, I’d like to say an outright no.
But then, having thought about it more, I’d say now that perhaps I’d consider it again… But, ONLY if I knew I had a solid walking team who’d stick together no matter what.
Photos: 1. City2Bay in Adelaide 2010 - Finally! The Finish Line., 2. City2Bay in Adelaide 2010 - 6Ks to Go!, 3. City2Bay in Adelaide 2010 - My Bib!, 4. Part of the Connecting Up Team wearing our DonorTec shirts