Moonwalk Tips

Here's a great idea. Let's gather up 10,000 of us and stay up until midnight, then take off our tops then parade around the streets of Edinburgh in our bras for 26.2 miles. C'mon! Where's your sense of adventure?

A year later the painful sweaty memories of the Moonwalk marathon have mellowed. Except for the part with the 13 miles of leg cramp and turbulent stomach. Apart from that it was a pure magic.

Since that fateful night lots people have arrived at this blog by Googling "Moonwalk training tips" or "Moonwalk training plan" and I thought, "Yeah! I should write about that!". But I've faffed around for so long the 2009 London walk has already been and the Edinburgh one is next weekend! Let's get on with it anyway and we can help Saturday's ladies and the Googlers of the Future.

I canvassed some of my teammates for their hot tips too, so it's not just whingy me hoping others might learn from my mistakes. And I know there's some fellow Moonwalk Veterans out there, so if you've got any wisdom to share please feel free to join in in the comments!

Moonwalk

Moonwalk Training Tips

  • Above all, start with good shoes! You're going to be doing a lot of walking so start with a fresh pair or ones that haven't already done many miles. Make sure they're not too tight because your feet can swell up.
  • Double skin socks can help prevent friction
  • Coat your feet with Vaseline before putting your socks – feels like you're walking on air and helps prevent blisters
  • DO YOUR STRETCHES from Day One! This is my biggest regret. Take ten minutes after every walk while your body is nice and warm to thoroughly stretch your legs. Follow the stretches in the Moonwalk booklet, do a leggy section of a yoga DVD or search YouTube for stretching routines.
  • Try to do other kinds of exercise as well so that you don't get totally fed up with walking. Spinning, weight training, yoga – just try and schedule it so you "save" your legs for the long walk on the weekend!
  • This goes against the Official Moonwalk Training Schedule but all my teammates agreed on this one: don't fret if you don't get all the short walks done, if you're someone who already does a lot of incidental walking (such as walking to work) or non-walky exercise. Just make sure you ALWAYS do the long ones.
  • Audio books help the time pass on longer walks. You could get through War and Peace quite easily. Sometimes I'd get so caught up in the story I'd be almost disappointed to finish. Almost.
  • Podcasts of radio shows are also great – the variety of segments stops you from getting bored. I liked The Bugle, This American Life and Jillian Michaels.
  • Start your long walks either early morning or late afternoon/evening (hooray for long summer nights) so you don't get too hot. You'll be walking at night for the real thing so may as well get used to cooler conditions.
  • Vary your walking routes so you don't fall asleep on your feet from boredom! If you do most of your walks in town, try a country jaunt or catch a train to a nearby town for a change of scenery.
  • MapMyWalk is a good free website to log your walks, map your routes and feel smug about how many miles you're racking up
  • Be careful not to overestimate how many calories you're burning with the training. Another of my biggest mistakes! I overcompensated at dinner time quite a bit 🙂
  • Don't eat too much junk on your longer walks. You will need to eat to keep your energy levels up but don't go too crazy with chocolate bars or jelly babies. Most us walked better when we ate "real" food – a banana, a handful of dried fruit, or a wholemeal peanut butter sandwich (easy to break chunks off as you walk)

Moonwalk bra decoration

  • Dying a plain white bra itself is a good base for decorating – it looks more interesting by default and you don't need as many dangly things to make it look jazzy.
  • Make sure you bra decorations don’t chafe.
Brahat_2

The week before

  • Preserve your energy – get plenty of sleep every night in the leadup.
  • Don't vary your routine too much – don't introduce anything new that might throw your body out of whack. For example, don't eat anything unusual. Check all expiry dates!
  • Eat as wholesomely as you can – avoid processed food, potentially dodgy takeaways…
  • Drink lots of water
  • Try on your Moonwalk outfit and make sure it's comfortable and that you look racktacular!

The night before

  • You do need to "carb up" a wee bit but try to keep your food plain and simple – nothing too spicy or exotic. You really don't want any stomach dodginess 🙂
  • Lay out all your Moonwalk outfit and make sure everything's in its place
  • Pack your Moonwalk gear – make sure you've not got too much stuff to carry because it will annoy you on the night. Can your phone double up as a camera? Do you really need four different kinds of snack?
  • Don't forget to charge your camera.
  • Make sure the fridge is well-stocked with something delicious for when you eventually recover from the ordeal on Sunday afternoon.
Tent

On the big day

  • Have a very very quiet day. Try to sleep in as late as you can and/or have an afternoon nap – you're going to be awake all bloody night.
  • Put lovely clean sheets on your bed so you'll have something nice to collapse into tomorrow.
  • Put your nicest bubble bath and fluffiest towel right next to the bath tub because you won't have any energy to go hunting for them when you get home!
  • Don’t arrive too early – sure the atmosphere is great but if you're too early you're just sitting around on the ground in a very crowded area getting cramped and grumpy. If I had my time again I'd have rocked up at 10PM and chilled out more at home!
  • Enjoy the official Moonwalk flapjack; it's dead tasty. Dunno about that pasta they give you, though.

During the Moonwalk

  • It will be painfully slow and crowded at first and you'll probably not be able to walk at your usual pace. Don't panic and don't waste energy weaving in and out of the crowds. Once it thins out a bit you can get into a more regular pace.
  • Stay hydrated – small regular sips. It's easy to forget to drink once you start trudging along
  • Don't drink anything you wouldn't normally drink – like if you only drank water during your training don't suddenly start on the energy drinks, your stomach will rebel!
  • If you need a quick pee look out for some discreet trees. We know they tell you not too but you'd be walking til Tuesday if you waited in the port-a-loo queues.
  • Do some stretches during your loo breaks
  • Try to enlist a Support Vehicle – kind friends or family to pop up at various points on the night to give you a snack and/or words of encouragement! They can also carry more water so you don't have to. Particularly great at the halfway mark and then again at around mile 18. Just when I wanted to throw myself into the Forth River our friends appeared with this amazing platter and really boosted our morale.
Silverservice_2

Afterward

  • Even if you're too shattered to feel any sort of joy for finishing, be sure to take lots of photos so you can admire your achivement in retrospect.
  • Don't park too far away from the finish line! You are going to be KNACKERED like you've never known knackered before.
  • Have a pair of slippers ready in the car to ease your tortured tootsies into for the journey home
  • Have something nice for brekkie when you have finished
Whinge1   Whinge2

Check out all the Moonwalk training posts and reports from the big night in the Moonwalk category archive.

GOOD LUCK to any Moonwalkers out there!

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Moonwalk Report – Part II

Alternative Title: The Flaming Calves of DOOM!

After the Crotch Whacking Cones, Miles 9 through 12 were a blur. It was so dark as we trudged along Queensferry Road, plastic ponchos whooshing like a lullaby. I drifted in and out of conversations, trying to ignore the ache in the ball of my left foot. At Mile 10 the people doing the Half Moon turned left and headed back towards the city centre. They only had another 3.1 miles to go, lucky bastards.

Now we headed away from the big roads and down towards the sea…

Mile 12 – Did I tell you we had support vehicles? Just like the Tour de France! It consisted of Dave (Claire's fella) and Bruce (Lorraine's fella) on bicycles. They'd decided to go for a few pints then pedal around the course throughout the night. They popped up at random intervals like a ray of sunshine to shout words of encouragement and/or offer snacks.

At Mile 12 they were joined by our colleague Tara. She'd Moonwalked last year with Claire, so she knew from experience we'd need a small chocolate ration at that precise moment. Just when my calves had started to twinge and my morale nosedived, she appeared like a confectionery goddess. With one bite of a wee ASDA chocolate caramelly can't-remember-the-name I was REBORN!

3.30AM, Mile 13 – HALFWAY!

I remember thinking, now would a good time to become a Glass Half Full Person. Only thirteen miles to go, it's all downhill from here! As opposed to, Bloody hellfire thirteen stinking evil miles to go and I want to dieeeeeee.

We were down by the water now. To our left, the Firth of Forth. To our right, a discreet wall of leafy trees and many Moonwalkers darting behind them. Already the sun was starting to rise.

Mile 14 – Pee pressure: when you're dacks down in the bushes with your team and desperate not to be the last one squatting. C'MON LIL BLADDER!

By now my left foot hurt every time I put weight on it. Which is quite bloody often when one is walking. My calves also had the same "tennis balls trapped under the skin" sensation that I'd experienced on the first 16 mile training walk. I stopped for a proper stretch.

4.21AM, Mile 15 – The quietness of the seafront was replaced by the shiteness of an industrial estate. But there was a water station with giant buckets of chopped up bananas and oranges! I'd never been so glad to see a slightly shriveled piece of fruit in my life. This is where I took the Orange In Gob photo Moonwalk0421.

Brain boosted by the power of Vitamin C, I calculated that we'd been walking for 4.5 hours, an average of 18 minutes per mile. So if we kept that up, we only had 3-ish hours to go!

HA!

Ha ha.

Aye, right.

4.29AM – The sky grew pink over Leith.

Sunrise

Mile 16 – Calf pain levels upgraded to Flaming Tennis Balls With Metal Spikes. Described my symptoms to my team and they said, "That sounds like cramp". Nooo! Too many miles to go for cramp. So more stretching. A bite of Snickers bar.

Mile 17 – Ocean Terminal shopping centre. My legs refused to straighten properly so I walked in a semi-squat, cossack-esque position.

During that mile we reached the five hour mark. My longest training walk had been five hours, so it was all virgin territory now. That's when I overheard Sarah say something along the lines of, "I've just accepted that every step is going to be painful from now until the end, and there's nothing I can do but keep on walking".

I thought that was a very classy attitude and felt determined to adopt the same. Although I quite fancied throwing myself to the pavement and wailing like a big baby.

5.17AM, Mile 18 – Our amazing support crew were waiting for us with a silver platter full of goodies. Now that's service! Once again, oranges had never tasted so good.

Silverservice_2

I felt completely rubbish at this point. The last three miles had taken almost an hour. My calves were totally seized up, same with the left foot. No amount of stretching helped. The general consensus was cramp and I needed salt. I also switched back to an energy drink (I'd been sipping one for the first few miles but had changed to water). The saltiest food I had was a wee bag of Hula Hoops but I was just so sick of food – I know, can you believe it – that it was difficult to get any down.

Miles 19 – We played Eye Spy. I tried to remember my Classy Attitude vow but when someone said, "I spy something something start with… S", I immediately whined, "Shauna's Flaming Calves of DOOM!"

I fell into step with Sarah. Our other teammates were still chatty and bright but she said, "I don't think I should waste energy talking" and that suited me perfectly. We plodded along the Portobello promenade in silence.

You can communicate a lot with eyebrows. Like when you're stuck behind someone who's wearing alarmingly transparent tights and a thong, and their buttocks are wrestling like socks in a washing machine. Mutual eyebrows raised in alarm is a signal to do some rapid overtaking.

Mile 20, 21, 22 – This is when things got really really really dodgy. How can I put it delicately? I was crook in the guts. Experiencing intestinal turmoil. That overwhelming about-to-explode feeling is bad enough in the comfort of your own home, but when you're out on the town, having been awake for almost 24 hours and walking for six of them… it's no exaggeration to say it was hell on earth.

Three miles was plenty of time to analyse my predicament. Was it something I ate? Was it last Tuesday's  IKEA hot dog? Was it the Official Moonwalk Flapjack? Most likely it was the energy drink. I'd never drunk one before and the sickly sweetness was overpowering. In hindsight it was a very stupid time to introduced my stomach to something so foreign.

The more my stomach rumbled like Vesuvius the more my mental state declined. It was quite fascinating to witness the brain rotate through such a negative array of emotions. Fierce jealousy of my faster team members, half a block ahead. Annoyance at my stupid flaming calves. Bitterness at myself for being the unathletic owner of said stupid flaming calves. Resentment at Edinburgh City Council for having pavements instead of moving walkways.

But soon that was replaced by sheer bloody panic. What if I couldn't find a loo? How much longer could I hold out? Should I just hammer on a random door and beg them to let me in? Oh Lordy I really cannot hold out much longer. Don't cry don't cry don't cry BE CLASSY!

Behind me a girl was talking about food. "I just want to get a big fuck-off chicken leg," she moaned, "and gnaw on it like a caveman."

Mile 23 – Miracle on London Road! A block of flats covered in scaffolding. A dusty port-a-loo, sitting sweetly beside the footpath.

"That looks like a loo," said Sarah.

"Could it really be?"

It was. And it was unlocked!

Oh people! The joy. The relief. I still cannot find the words to express it.

Now back to the silent, slo-mo action. I was still doing my painful cossack walk but mile 23 was bliss.

Mile 24 – Called Gareth. Jenny answered; they were in the car on their way to the finish line. "Could you ask him to park as close to The Meadows as humanly possible? Just look for the big pink tent. Drive on the grass if you have to."

Mile 25, 7.32AM – Down in the Cowgate. A weary snap of the Mile 25 marker.

Mile25

The last 1.2 miles took eighteen minutes but it felt like an eternity, all numb and fuzzy like sleepwalking. The Castle came into view again as we shuffled through the Grassmarket.

Grassmarket

Along Lauriston Place there were people walking in the opposite direction with medals round their necks and silver blankets round their shoulders. They were finished and I wanted to stab them.

Mile 26 – The mile marker was at the top of The Meadows. 0.2 miles to go.

Mile 26.2, 7.50AM – Crossed the Finish Line with the lovely Sarah. WE ARE DONE BABY DONE! Eight hours neat. We had walked for an entire working day!

I'd thought I'd get all emotional like my 5k race but I was too knackered to feel anything but relief that it finally, finally over. My legs pinged and twinged like harp strings. Managed to collect the goody bags and find the rest of the team before flopping on the grass.

8.02AM – I was looking through our group photos the other day and found these two, taken a few seconds apart.

Whinge1
Frame #1 – The whiny face of reality

Whinge2
Frame #2 – FAKE! FAKE! FAKE!

This is where I attempted to stand up for the Triumphant Medal Pose but my legs failed halfway up.

Tumble

Take #2 with port-a-loos in the background providing a poignant reminder of the ordeal. Too tired to open eyes properly. The effort to arrange mouth in an upturned manner was a marathon in itself.

Finish
FYI, those lines across my boobs are from my bra decorations,
just in case you thought I had long, squiggly nipples.

Aftermath

Gareth had parked at Haymarket train station, one mile away. I tried to walk there, I really did. But after moving twenty metres in twenty minutes we gave up and jumped into a taxi. Or Gareth and Jenny jumped, I collapsed into. Half an hour later were home, another half an hour later I maneuvered myself out of the car and into the flat. You think I exaggerate, but my legs had just decided ENOUGH! We are not going to work anymore! They completely seized up; stretching was impossible. I'd never known such pain and fatigue and it was bloody hilarious. I had to wheel myself around the flat in an office chair!

Then my whole body started shaking and shivering so I wheeled myself into a hot bath. Then I slept for four hours. Then I felt quite triumphant. Then I ate the tastiest bacon sandwich of my life.

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Moonwalk Report

Aside from the toaster, the greatest invention ever must be the Time and Date thingy on digital cameras and mobile phones. Two weeks after the Moonwalk I can barely remember it; my brain seems determined to suppress the finer details of all the pain and glory. But thankfully I can look at photo data or my Sent text messages and let the memories spew forth… "OH YEAH, that's that precise moment I wanted to fling myself under a double decker bus rather than take another step."

So here we go…

Saturday 14 June, 10AM – On the morning of the Moonwalk there was nothing left to do but carb it up. The training was done. The bra was decorated. The socks had been nestled inside the shoes in readiness. Bring on the rice and porridge.

I lazed around between bowls. We picked up Jenny from the airport, and some most excellent bacon from the farmer's market ready for my post marathon sarnie.

6PM – Tried to take a nap but Lionel Richie's All Night Long was stuck on an endless loop in my head.  How can one sleep with those saucy beats? I got dressed and paced impatiently. In the end I wore a tank top underneath my decorated bra. I was okay to bare arms but the belly was a bridge too far!

7PM – Had a last minute brainwave to live blog the walk on Twitter so I linked my phone to my account. Didn't realise until the next day that I'd put in the wrong number and had been rambling sending texts to some poor sleepless bastard all! night! looooong!    

8PM – Hitched a ride to Edinburgh with my Moonwalking comrades. On the way over we compared carbo notes and the joys of coating your feet in Vaseline. Try it, I tell you. Lube up your feet then slide into a pair of cotton socks; it feels like you're walking on air. Or a field of pillows. Or across the plump buttocks of many cherubs. For the first two miles, at least.

8.45PM – Arrived at MoonwalkCity, aka a gigantic pink tent in the middle of The Meadows.

Tent

Suddenly it was all rather exciting. I knew there would be 12,000 Moonwalkers but I didn't fathom the scale until I saw the sprawling sea of feathers, flowers and sequins. And pink pink pink. Mostly women but a few blokes gleefully showing off their brassieres.

We all plonked down in the tent. And so began the waiting.

9.30PM – Pinned race number to my trouser leg. Felt smug since I had proper safety pins instead of staples this time.

9.40PM – Ate my allocated vegie pasta ration. Surprisingly tasty!

9.50PM – Smugness came to abrupt halt when I noticed that I'd somehow managed to KNEEL IN MY PASTA, leaving a greasy red stain on my race number.

Pasta

Then there was a wilderness hour where our only real purpose was to pee as many times as possible…

Looqueue

… and take photos while queuing for the loos (10.28PM)

Looqueue2

Honestly, all that waiting around was a real energy killer. If I had my time again I would have slept all day then rocked up to the pink tent just before midnight!

10.58PM – The Moonwalk Boss Lady took the mic from the salsa band and instructed us approximately eleven million times to PLEASE wear our plastic poncho thingies because it was an extremely cold evening out there. She had the exact same tone of voice as an ineffectual primary school teacher pleading with a wayward eight year old to PLEASE come down off the canteen roof and stop throwing those rocks. But since she is an amazing woman to have dreamed up such a wildly successful fundraising event, we all chanted obediently like members of a very pink cult, YES MISS, We Will Wear Our Stupid Ponchos.

Cult

11.02PM – Attention span fading. I thought I'd be nervous but I was just plain grumpy, anxious to get out there and get the bastard over with. Also riddled with bra envy upon seeing a herd of ladies in zebra costumes. They had TAILS!

Zebra

Serious interlude – At something o'clock we had a minute of silence to think about the purpose of the Moonwalk. Why or who or what you were there for. It was a very moving, misty-eyed moment. I don't think there'd be anyone in the room whose lives had not been touched by cancer in some way.

11.40PMFinally it was time. Since there were 12,000 walkers we started in three different waves.

11.50PM – We cross the line and I hit the start button on my stopwatch.

Start

As everyone warned me, the pace was sloooow. And the Moonwalk Lady was not kidding about the cold.

The first part of the route was around the bottom of Arthur's Seat, the same route as my Race for Life 5k in 2005. My legs felt good and strong as we strolled up the hill that had left me cranky and wheezing back then. It was rather eerie, pitch black except for scraps of moonlight bouncing off our reflective caps; silent but for the rustle of thousands of plastic ponchos.

At the top I looked back across the city – Edinburgh Castle was lit up in pink. I got that little shiver just like the first time I saw it back in 2003; a groovy feeling of being where I'm meant to be.

Sunday 15 June, 1.10AM. Mile 4 – Walking up the Royal Mile was brilliant. Sozzled blokes were stumbling out of the pubs, rubbing their eyes at the sight of the bra-wearing swarm. People were hanging out the windows of their flats to cheer us on.

Milecrowd

I wanted to take more photos but to pause is to get left behind! So lots of blurry pictures ahead, I'm afraid. It was at this stage my arms went numb from cold so I had to put my jacket on underneath the plastic number. After all that time I'd spent psyching myself up to flaunt the Moonwalk costume, it was too bloody Baltic to do it. Grrr.

We headed past Castle Terrace at 1.20AM and I snapped this truly shitty pic of the pink castle. That was the last one I took until 4.21AM.

Edinburghcastle

So what happened in the hours in between? More walking at a glacial pace. A handful of yogurt-covered apricots. Some peeing in bushes. Yes, you're not supposed to do it but if we'd queued politely at the official stops I'd still be walking now. I tell you, once you've dropped trou in front of your work colleagues there's a whole new level of comradeship.

2.15AM – Received a text from jetlagged Jenny asking how I was getting on. I texted back with great enthusiasm: Nae bad Jen, almost at mile 8 and-

SMACK. I slammed groin first into a big traffic cone. Both me and phone went flying. I landed on the road hands first and there was a gasp from the crowd. I tried to leap up as casually as possible and announced, "I'm good! I'm good!". Everyone cheered.

DUDES. Mortifying.

Cone
Sample only.
Not actual crotch-whacking cone.

2.20AM – Was composing a message to what I thought was Twitter to inform you of my ordeal when… SMACK. I did the same thing again.

I was fine, really. Fine! Just embarrassed. And possibly now barren.

Let this be a lesson to you folks. DON'T TEXT AND WALK. Especially when it's dark outside.

[Sorry this report is taking so long; things have been a wee bit chaotic. Second and final installment later in the week!]

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71 June

I walked the Walk! But I’ll have to wait to talk the Walk until later in the week when we get back from our wee jaunt in the Highlands. The Walk took me EIGHT HOURS so as you can imagine I have a lot of Walk to talk about.

But I’ve run out of time; its 1.23 AM and I just finished going over 409 pages of proofs for the US edition of Dietgirl. I read the cover note last week in a zombified state and thought it said, "complete by 71 June". Plenty of time, nae bother! But of course there is no such date. It was actually 17 June, which is today. Now my eyeballs feel like they’re about to explode which nicely parallels the feeling in my calves!

I better scoot to bed. Until next time, here is a picture from the Start line, just before midnight. Already looking tired, but behold the joy and innocence!

Moonwalkstart

(We are all wearing plastic coat thingies because it was SO bloody cold)

And here is the complete opposite of joy at 4.21 AM Moonwalk0421. The orange was very tasty, however.

I wanted to say a huge thank you for all your kind comments and Moonwalk wishes! And also a big woohoo to those who climbed aboard the 100 PushUps challenge. I did the Initial Test and managed just three trembling reps. The only way is up.

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Twas The Night Before Moonwalk

1 day to go

This time tomorrow night I’ll be waiting for the stroke of midnight, my cue to start Moonwalking along with 11,999 other bra-wearing folk. Shit! Shit! Shit a brick! I mean, woohoo!

We had a bra decorating party last Saturday – Dirty Dancing, Chinese food and a sea of sequins, fluff and taffetta. There was booze galore but nobody drank much as our hands were too busy with scissors and needles and glue. Conversation was minimal; just random bursts of song and swearing when thumbs were stabbed.

I tried to channel all the skillz learned for my Brownie sewing badge circa 1986. Thankfully Claire had earlier dyed all our bras a lovely shade of fuschia pink, so mine looked pretty cool already as the lacy bits stayed white. It took me three hours just to sew one bit of frill along the bottom and a squiggle of silver across each boob. Check out them highly accurate stiches. Brown Owl would be proud!

Moonwalk bra decorating
Moonwalk bra decorating 2

Here is the finished product, nestled lovingly against Gareth’s engineering textbook. Some serious engineering going on in that bra,too.

Bra

Since Saturday I’ve been in state of Wardrobe Panic. I’d been so focused on walking the 26.2 miles that I totally ignored the do-it-in-your-bra bit. During training I wore a long-sleeved top with my boob-crushing grubby ye olde Enell sports bra underneath. The bra above was supplied by the Moonwalk folk and Einstein here didn’t bother trying it on until Sunday night and discovered that it isn’t supportive enough to tame my girls.

Well, DERR! That’s Australian for DUH, btw. Why the hell would a frilly bra be suitable for an 8 hour walk? Of course I panicked for a couple more days until it was too late to order a different bra online or go shopping in Edinburgh. I’ve come up with an eleventh hour solution with a second bra and a large pot of Vaseline but really, I am tempted just to wear it as a hat:

Brahat_2
I reserve the right to keep this photo small
due to current state o’ haggardness.

I feel like a twit writing this, but I had a total Fat Girl Freakout on Sunday. When I signed up late last year, I thought the Moonwalking in your bra was such a fab way to raise money for breast cancer research and I was pretty cool with my body these days so bring it ON. But the wave of panic started on Saturday night – looking at my bra, looking at my colleagues, comparing my body to theirs, feeling larger and wobblier by the minute.

The panic grew overnight then on Sunday afternoon in the shower, I just started bawling my eyes out. I felt so sick to my stomach, the thought of my bare arms and bare belly out for all the world to see. For my work colleagues to see. I felt like a fraud; like I’d been disguising myself as a Normal Person just like them and now they were going to find out I was a wobbly-armed mess.

I thought about how there was something noble about a scar from a surgery or a stretch mark from bearing a child, but what if your impefections are just your own bloody fault; the result of too much chocolate and chips and whatnot? For those ten minutes under the shower I felt ashamed and angry, thoughts racing through my head that had not surfaced for many years.

After I had my good old cry I towelled off, got dressed and tried the pink bra on again. I took photos from a bazillion different angles and just looked at them on the computer for ages. I calmed down after that. You’ll be alright, ya dork.

90% of the time I live and breathe that bit of my silly book where I go on about embracing all my lumps and bumps. But I guess embracing said lumps in everyday life is different from having to parade them around town all night long. Like I said, I feel like a goose even writing about the Freakout, but I like to be honest; not just with you but with myself. This feeling-good-in-your-own-skin thing isn’t always smooth sailing. I still have my little moments but thankfully they’re fleeting these days.

Really, I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow with my mates in my beloved Edinburgh. The big night is finally here and I think it’s going to be a hoot.

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Moonwalk Training – 20 Miles

2 weeks to go

Twenty mile haiku
Known in metric as
thirty-two kays. But to all,
a bloody long way

Route
10 miles out on the cycle track then ten miles back. I didn't count the half-mile walk from home to the path this time, since I struggled with the maths last week.

Weather Report
HOT! HOT! HOT!
Well, alright. It wasn't hot. It was about 20 degrees (68F). Stop laughing, my fellow Australians. Do I mock when you put on scarves coz it's 12 degrees? Seriously, I'm pathetic in the sun these days and deserve to have my Oz passport revoked. Just try to understand what an alarming sensation it is to see this weird pale blue stuff above your head. 20 degrees can feel positively balmy, especially if you're walking all day long. The epidermis sizzles in shock and you start muttering, Walk faster! Faster! Before the skin cancer gets you!

So that is what I did. I banged out mile after mile, glopping on more sunscreen every hour and weeping stingy sunscreeny tears. The bike path was 70-30 split of sun and shade, so it was like interval training – charging through the sunny parts then easing off in the less treacherous shady bits.

The first ten miles were okay. I sipped water regularly and felt pretty good. Hot and sweaty, but good. My feet ached in the usual tired-but-not-too-hurty way. I stopped to take a picture of this delightfully retro scarecrow.

Scarecrow
I say old chap! Get the devil away from my cabbages!

Puffed
I've heard about the phenomenon of swollen hands during long walks and finally experienced it myself on Saturday. This was mile 11 when I had to loosen my heart rate monitor by two notches because my wrists had ballooned.

Puffy2

Losing the plot
Maybe my fatigued brain is failing me as I'm writing this five days after the event, but I don't think the 20 miler was all that bad until the last four. I was hardly jumping for joy but I had some great podcasts and almost tuned out the fact that I was in motion. Plus, I was worming out of painting the living room. Poor Gareth was slaving over the skirting boards while I strolled along, eating Mars Bars.

But something pinged in my brain when I saw 4 miles spray painted on the cycle path. It hit me that I'd been walking for four long hours and had at least another hour to go. My body hurt and I was all woe and melodrama. This is the longest training walk ever. In fact, this is the longest walk I've ever done in my life. BOO!

And I was thirsty. I'd drunk plenty of water already but very specifically wanted a glass of orange and passionfruit juice from a cafe back in Australia. And I was hungry, but all I had left was a wilted peanut butter sandwich.

I got strangely weepy at the 3 mile mark. How was it that a couple hours early I was all, "Yay! Only 11 miles to go!" and now three puny miles seemed like walking to Jupiter?

Then at 2 miles my shoulders were agony (wtf!?) and I tragically ran out of podcasts. Nooo! I dispensed my emergency cheery-up tunes, The Best of Blur. There's No Other Way! Damon sang. No shit. The jaunty tunes felt like mosquitoes spitting in my ears but at least got me moving and thinking, lets get this miserable stinker done.

Everything hurt for the last mile but I stayed ahead of the beat in Girls and Boys. It was the quickest one, just under 14 minutes, as I adopted an Olympic walker style – arms pumping, nostrils flaring, generally looking like I had a stick up my butt.

Aftermath
My legs turned to lead as soon as I finished. It took 11 minutes to limp that extra half-mile home. I nearly called Gareth to pick me up but I think my fingers would have been to swollen to press the right buttons.

When I got home all I could do was slump in my chair, whinge incoherently and wait for my hands to deflate. My normally too-big wedding band was stuck fast.

Puffy

I am so glad that's over. Now there's just over a week til the big night. And then after that I shall avoid all forms of walking as much as possible. Rickshaws all the way.

Pace
20 miles (32 km) in 04:56:52. Average pace 14:50 (4.04 mph)

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Moonwalk Training – 16 Miles Revisited

3 weeks to go. Arrgh!

Fuel

  • Porridge and
  • Toast
  • Cuppa
  • Litre of water
  • An overwhelming desire to Just Get The Bastard Done ASAP so I could get on with the rest of my thrill-a-minute weekend, ie. paint the living room while listening to the cricket like a middle-aged middle-class fart. Zzzzz.

Route
Continuing the Just Get The Bastard Done theme, I chose the most straightforward route possible. There is a cycle track half a mile from our flat. It's the outdoor equivalent of a treadmill – dull and straight and predictable. There's markers every half mile and every kilometre. So I planned to walk down, crank out 7.5 miles, turn around, 7.5 miles back, plus the half mile back home for a total of 16.

But what I thought would be a chore turned out quite pleasant. I'd never gone further than four miles on the track before, so didn't realise after that it gets all green and leafy and serene…

Leafy
And more importantly, plenty of places to hide if you're bursting on a pee.

Then it opens out into quiet fields with swaying crops. No car fumes, no traffic lights, no noise… just the occasional bit of motivational graffiti!

Suck

Mathematically Challenged
I was really firing along, counting down the half miles. Vun! Vun-Point-Five Miles! Two! Two-Point-Five Miles! AH HA HA! Then the half-mile markers just stopped at mile five for no good reason.

I switched to the kilometre markers. My arithmetic sucks at the best of times, let alone while walking like a demon. But thanks to the restorative powers of a Half A Snickers Bar, I worked out that 7.5 miles is 12-point-something kilometres. So I turned around at 12.

Then I needed to figure out how fast to walk a kilometre in order maintain a 15 minute mile pace. FAIL! I had to call Dr G for that one.

Give That Girl A Kicking
Right at the end I saw two Moonwalkers In Training in their official sexy pink tartan caps. They'd only just started; their water bottles were full and expressions were grim. So I don't know what part of my fatigued brain thought it would be a great idea to yell out, "I'm nearly finished!"

Once off the cycle track I headed for home, hobbling around a few extra blocks in case my calculations were crap. Luckily I did, as turns out 12 kilometres is only 7.45645431 miles so overall I would have been 0.0870914 miles short of the 16 miles. And we can't have that while training for a non-competitive charity event, CAN WE?!

Pain Report

  • Right shin – excruciating for last five miles
  • Feet – on fire for last hour
  • Ears – random small child on tricycle accompanied me for a mile with her REALLY SQUEAKY WHEELS. My womb is so conflicted: one minute I'm all well aren't you a DELIGHT and the next I wanted to slash her pink plastic tyres.

Pace
16.1 miles (25.91km) in 04:01:00. Average pace 14:58 (4.01 mph)

That's more than 20 minutes faster than the previous 16 miler. I put that down to an obscenely huge breakfast and such unfathomable love for painting walls that you want to walk your arse back to the brush as swiftly as possible.

So I felt all speedy, smug and Sporty Spice… until I found out all my team members had done their walks even quicker. Bastards! I know it's not a race, I know it's just for charidee; I know they're not going to leave me behind on the night. But after all these years of sweat and toil I'm still stuck with my high school title of Slowest In The Group? I gotta find me some less speedy comrades. Hehe.

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Moonwalk Training – 16 Miles

5 weeks to go

I was due a crappy training walk; things had been going far too smoothly!

Despite being well-fed and watered, my legs felt weak from mile three. The weather was strange too, humid and sticky like Sydney. Normally I just let my mind wander with the music and almost forget that I'm in motion, but on Saturday I was conscious of every step. I wanted to throw rocks at the runners who breezed past me, with their infuriating ability to run therefore covering distances in far shorter times.

I had to give up my usual obsession with Making Good Time and just plod. At mile eleven my calves seized up, it felt like I had tennis balls trapped under the skin. FLAMING tennis balls. With metal spikes. Mile twelve I considered taking a bus. Mile thirteen saw thunder and lightning. Then it poured rain for the last two. I thought about crawling on my hands and knees. When I finally got home I gingerly lowered myself onto the couch and did not move for three hours. Job done!

LipstickAnother Case for the Time-Traveling Fat Detective
More fodder for my forthcoming blockbuster novels – The Mysterious Case of the Abandoned Lipstick. It was broken and floating in a puddle – L'Oreal Colour Riche in a pale, aloof shade. Probably fell from the handbag of a leggy blonde as she was stuffed into a dark Mercedes. Or some litterbug that needs a smack in the chops.

Pace
Urgh. 16 miles (25.75km) in 04:20:46. Average pace 16:16 (3.38 mph)

Observation
If you decide to empty your bladder in a deserted bit of wilderness, for goodness' sake check for nettles before you crouch down.

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Moonwalk Training – 14 Miles

6 weeks to go

An important part of my training has been numerical ignorance. As a metric Australian, I had no real concept of a mile. It was meaningless to me as a unit of measurement. So last year I signed up with great enthusiasm, unable to fathom 26.2 miles. 26.2 units of something didn’t sound bad at all.

It’s like when I first came to Scotland in 2003 and couldn’t comprehend the pound. "£3 for a sandwich?" I’d say, "Sold!"

But of course the danger comes when you do the conversion. "Eight dollars for a shithouse mayo-drenched sandwich!? HIGHWAY ROBBERY!" (the exchange rate was particularly rubbish at the time).

Likewise, it occurred to me recently that 26.2 miles is actually 42 kilometres. I know how far 42 kilometres is. I can relate that distance to places that I know. Suddenly the Moonwalk went from being a casual walk in the dark to: a bloody long way.

"That’s like walking from Cowra to Canowindra and back!" I spluttered to Gareth. "Why would anyone want to do that?"

"From where to where?"

The next day I was telling my Aussie friend Jenny about the Moonwalk on the phone.

"42 kilometres?" she said, "That’s like Cowra to Canowindra and back!"

Back to the training
Saturday’s walk was 14 miles and it just about took the first mile to calculate that 14 miles was 22.5 kilometres. Man. That’s soooo many numbers.

But the sky was gloomy and threatening so I trudged on regardless, trying to forget that I was walking to Canowindra.

Map Scenery
It was a long and lonely walk; I hardly saw a soul all afternoon. Just lots of rabbits and bees. Bees are so huge in this country. Australian bees, or at least the ones I’ve been stung by, are lean and mean. The British bees are round and furry. Like cockroaches wearing bee suits.

Soundtrack
Podcast-o-rama. Inspired by this list on Textism, I listened to The Bugle (with The Daily Show‘s John Oliver), This American Life, and Stephen Fry banging on about Oscar Wilde. All those intelligent folks made for a very smug and soothing walking experience.

Pain Report
The soles of my feet started to hurt around mile 10, and both knees were aching by mile 11. It wasn’t an injured kind of pain, just the ache of fatigue and cannae-be-arsed-ness. I thought I’d collapse once I got back home, but I felt revitalised enough after a bottle of water to give the kitchen another coat of paint before dinner.

Pace
14.03 miles in 03:37:28. Average pace 15:30 (3.87 mph)

Tangent
All this walking makes me HUNGRY. I wouldn’t advise getting into this sort of caper if you think it’ll make you lose weight. In April I walked 78 miles, plus weekly kickboxing and Spinning and twice-weekly weight training. In between? I ate. And ate and ate and ate.

Somehow it all balanced as my weight stayed the same and my flesh is still safely contained by my jeans. But I wonder how I’d have reacted to all this training a couple of years ago, when I was still gung-ho about weight loss and scale numbers. Right now my motivation is to get fitter and stronger so I’m willing to listen to my body if it says, "GIMME FOOD!" But back then I think the raging appetite and weight fluctuations would have truly messed with my head.

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Moonwalk Training – 12 Miles

7 weeks to go

Preparation
Less shoddy! I woke up in Glasgow totally parched after the previous night of rock. But I ate a huge hotel breakfast, got the bus home then guzzled water for a few hours. When I finally set out at 4PM I felt good and ready.

Route
The new route avoided boring housing estates and instead stomped past pretty villages and beautiful but stinky canola crops. I printed out a map with mile markers and road names and promptly left it next to the computer. But at least I brought water this time! Maybe too much water. Thankfully the route contained a nice bit of wilderness for an emergency pit stop.

Soundtrack

  • Led Zeppelin I
  • New Goldfrapp album
  • Various podcasts
  • Mewing of a mangy cat that followed me for ten minutes
  • Rhiannon. I felt a bit lonely at 01:25 so called to say hello and we ended up yapping til 02.15! Well she talked the most; I didn’t want to an obnoxious al fresco phone yapper, destroying the Sunday arvo serenity for any passers-by. I was busy with my huffing and puffing anyway.

Deep Topics Pondered
Vitamins. How come we have vitamin A, multiple vitamin B’s, vitamin C, D and E then there’s that huge leap down to vitamin K? What happened to vitamin J? And vitamin G has a nice ring to it too. When I get home, must look up history of vitamins.

Shoes The Mysterious Case of the Abandoned Shoe. I paused to snap a photo of a pair of black high heels that were tangled into some bushes near the train station.

I’ve been pondering new writing projects, and Gareth suggested I pen a series called The Time Travelling Fat Detective. His logic: everyone loves time travel (witness the success of Dr Who). And everyone loves chick detectives (witness the success of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency). And they say to write about what you know, and I have been known to write about fat. Thus he reckons I could rake in the dough with The Time Travelling Fat Detective. So I pondered the shoes for a couple of miles. Murdered lady of the night? Kidnapped heiress? Most likely, lass with sore feet paused to have a spew on her way home from the pub. But where’s the suspense in that!?

Pain Report
My knee and hamstring were so much better this time round. Everything felt better overall. By the end my legs were tired but I wasn’t staggering and on the verge of howling like last time. Who’d have thought being properly hydrated and fueled would make such a difference? Ho ho ho.

Pace
Pretty good by my standards! I walked the 12 miles in 03:04:45, which is a 15:22 pace.

Moonwalk Mood-o-Meter
Much more optimistic now that I’ve got a decent long walk under my belt.

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