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.

Aye, right.

4.29AM – The sky grew pink over Leith.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Frame #1 – The whiny face of reality

Frame #2 – FAKE! FAKE! FAKE!

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


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.

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


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.

57 thoughts on “Moonwalk Report – Part II

  1. Wow, I’m torn between thinking this sounds wonderful, and hell-on-earth! Very inspiring though, I’d love to have a go one day…I think those terrific views and the shiny medal would be worth it alone!

  2. It was totally worth it Betty, but wouldn’t be in a hurry to do it again πŸ™‚

  3. Great post – I hate those ppl walking along with their goodie bags and medals when you’re still trying to finish. Smug bastards!

  4. I am *so* inspired! I once did a walk around the lake in Canberra – 24km, not *miles* and it nearly killed me – I can empathise how you felt afterwards – I couldn’t move for days, and my big toenails fell off from hitting the fronts of my shoes. You are a legend!

  5. That was brilliant!

    And you look totally sylph-like and lovely in those pictures (except the orange in gob one)

  6. Woo hoo!! I love the photos (both fake and not). I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t look half as good after a trek like that!

  7. I just found you blog even though it appears you’ve been famous for a while. You are so much like me in thought. I still have a lot to lose just starting on this crap. Got 75 lbs to lose. =C

  8. Thanks for the comments guys πŸ™‚

    Nice to meet you, Liz!

    I should probably edit the last para to say I got out of the bath before I slept for four hours, just in case it looks like I was on the verge of a Jim Morrison.

  9. Oh my gosh, you are such a funny writer. Even though it sounds horrendous, for some strange reason it inspires me to walk for a long long time (but not a marathon. Thanks for amusing me at work.

  10. Many many congrats on a hard won battle!! You finished something that most people wouldn’t be able too!! 8 hours of walk – holy crappolla that is amazing!!! But I guess these are your amazing adventures!

  11. HAHAHAH Those oranges bring back memories of interschool sports days. We used to freeze our orange quarters overnight so they’d be super cool and tasty by the time half time came around. (frozen grapes were delish too)

    Fabulous job, Shauny! Just think, that’s probably the equivalent of giving birth. . .except it’s your girly bits that’ll be the pinging harp strings. LOL

  12. I could actually feel your walk as I read these entries… I walked a marathon for breast cancer research last year. Finished in 5 hours, 40 minutes and had the biggest blister I’ve ever seen in my life on one of my feet. (I’ve run a couple marathons and never blistered). There is something infinitely hard yet satisfying about walking 26.2 miles. May I suggest that if you ever decide to do this again, you treat your legs to an ice bath as soon as you get home? I know it sounds horrendous but you’d be amazed at how fantastic your legs feel afterward and how fast they’ll recover. Oh, and call yourself a marathoner, you deserve it.

  13. I don’t think I could’ve done it without you walking (or plodding) in silence next to me…I think we needed to get away from the annoying ‘I still feel fine’ at 21 miles of our superfit team mates!

    And you did a great job of hiding quite how much pain you were in…I might have sounded like I had a classy attitude but really just wanted to STOP WALKING!!

    Anyway, we made it – we might not have been the fastest but we weren’t the slowest either….so are you ready for next year? Maybe if we start training now?!?

  14. As usual Shauna, you are a star. I was aching just reading your descriptions!

  15. By the way – I think it was the Moonwalk pasta….my miracle portaloo never appeared and I had to hold on til the very end!

  16. Hi Shauna, I loved reading the Moonwalk update. I’ve been reading your fabbo blog for months now and loved the book (I’m trying not to sound like a mad stalky fan here!). I just love your take on reality!

    Ali x

  17. There I was enjoying my morning cup of tea then I read this:

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

    Now my keyboard is all wet.

  18. Awesome report! I FELT those flaming calves with your words, Shauny girl.

    I’m with the others. Call yourself a marathoner. Get a t-shirt with it emblazoned on it, or something. You deserve it. πŸ˜€

  19. Inspired but, unfortunately, NOT to do the Moonwalk!! I’ll run a marathon before I’d do that….and am still thinking about it!

    Well done, you really did something special there.

    Lesley x

  20. You are freaking awesome, woman! Believe me, I would have complained much, MUCH more.

    And thank God for porta-loos!

  21. wow – I’m really impressed. I’m also really really scared now. Having decided that turning 30 meant I had to actually start doing things that I found inspiring I signed up for the Oxfam Trailwalker (Sydney). As it looms ever closer I’m getting more and more worried about the pain potential…. I am in awe of how you handled the agony for your long walk and am now just hoping that I can hold on as well as you did. Unfortunatly I do like to voice my discomfort and I’m aware that 100kms of walking is likely to produce a lot of discomfort!

  22. Holy cow! This is great:

    “They completely seized up; stretching was impossible. I’d never known such pain and fatigue and it was bloody hilarious.”

    What a crazy adventure!! Congratulations on your accomplishment πŸ™‚ This is quite the feat to be proud of. I love your honest photos at then end – well done!

  23. If I did that walk I would be chicken leg chick. However, I would not consider such craziness, you are officially mental and my hero. Mwah, mwah. xx

  24. If I did that walk I would be chicken leg chick. However, I would not consider such craziness, you are officially mental and my hero. Mwah, mwah. xx

  25. God, you are indeed a legend, and a very funny one at that too, incredible….and I’m still laughing about the” 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.”
    ha ha ha ha ha, You go girl!!!!!

  26. Oh my lord, I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to finish that thing! My longest walk ever was only 10 miles, and it took me hours and my feet no longer felt like feet afterward, more like two throbbing balls of achiness and fire. Mucho kudos to you for going through it to the end!!

  27. Fantastic effort, Dietgirl. You know, your description of the feelings and frustrations of the Moonwalk pretty much reflects the feelings and frustrations of childbirth. Especially the “tastiest bacon sandwich” at the end!

  28. God, you are such a pro – I would have been lynched for complaining at about mile 3!!!

    I only walked to our local post office and back last night (15 mins each way!) and as soon as I got in I was ripping off my shoes and socks and filling up my Scholl FootSpa.

    BTW – Is it just me or does anyone else get a popping sensation in their leg muscles after a long walk?

  29. And I KNOW how desparate it has to be to actually be happy to see a portaloo! Poor you having to contend with pain in your feet, legs AND gut! I would have treated the walk as an excuse to eat my own body weight in chocolate so good for you that you were so disinterested/restrained!

  30. OMG you poor thing! I felt such dread for you when you wrote how bad Mile 13 was, I would have been completely demoralized. Next time bring that office chair with you, at least you can ride on the downhill bits.

  31. Ouch, Ouch!, OUCH!!!!!!!!!! – poor you and well done you for sticking with it and doing it (I would have wimped out after about three steps I think!)

  32. Ok- I know this is truly beside the point but I feel I must say…. DEAR LORD! You are so svelt! My word.

  33. Hey everyone, cheers for the kind words.

    Vicky, will you marry me? πŸ˜›

    Alizoo – hiya there! thanks for delurking and glad you enjoyed the book πŸ™‚

    Infamous Sarah! – Lovely to see you round here. Are you serious about next year!? I think I would rather sit a bath full of eels or shave off my eyebrows than do it again. Hehe.

  34. The cramps in your legs and intestine were caused by hyponutremia. This is an eletrolyte imbalance. It can occur as a result of high fever or diarrhea (usually in children), or excessive water consumption (again, usually in children), or exertion in very hot conditions (adults) or any prolonged exercise in any weather (adults).

    When you urinate, or sweat, you lose electrolytes. If you drink water without replacing your electrolytes, your body may become unbalanced and have difficulty funcitoning properly.

    This is why you were cramping: your muscles rely on electrical signals to function and the electrolyte imbalance impairs their function.

    Exactly the symptoms you describe in this post have happened to me, usually on long hot runs on summer days when I would re-hydrate with water alone instead of gatorade. (Overhydrating is now recognized to be more of a health risk to marathoners than dehydration, mostly because we’ve all bee coached on the “importance of staying hydrated” and tend to over-drink water when we exercise.)

    If it’s serious enough, hyponutremia can result in heart failure and even death.

    You should drink water in response to thirst; don’t drink more than you actually need to quench your thirst. You also need to replenish those ‘lytes. Salt alone will not do the trick. If you ever do any endurance events again, try bringing potassium, calcium, & magnesium pills with you. You can also try to stash a banana along your route (this is an old distance runner’s trick) for the sugar & potassium boost.

  35. “If it’s serious enough, hyponutremia can result in heart failure and even death.” –commenter Victoria

    GASP! You could have died out there! What a brave, brave woman you are.


    Thoroughly enjoyed your report, which is a might bit whacked of me b/c you suffered so much. But you make it all so funny, I can’t help but love what you write.

    Great pics of you! So cute, even the grumpy face.

  36. Wow, DG! I cannot believe what an ordeal that was — I mean, my legs were cramping in sympathy pains just reading it! (and my intestines… ha)

    I am super proud of you for accomplishing that huge goal!

  37. Call me crazy but I actually am serious about doing it again – there’s something in me that just wants to do it better…

    Like you said, if I do it again I’s sleep all day, and not rock up at the big pink tent til 11pm!! And I’d avoid the Moonwalk pasta for something a bit lighter on the stomach!!

  38. You are truely ispiring and damn funny too and yes!… look svelte as anything!!!

  39. Add on an extra hour and (fortunately for me) lose the stomach cramps and you’ve pretty much described the experience I had in London(albeit far more humourously and eruditely than I would have done).

    Flippin’ fantastic achievement – by that I mean your self-control at not lamping the super-fit super-perky colleagues of yours at the end :-)…

  40. the “childbirth” reference was a good one – and 8 hours is actually pretty good for that. You did such a good job writing it all out that my calves and my guts hurt – alternately as I read. . .good for you for trying it in the first place and then sticking with it all the way through!

  41. I “ran” my first marathon back in November. At mile 19, I noticed a girl walking backwards, and I swear, that was the greatest sensation of my life. Moving my legs in a different direction was bliss. But the highlight was at mile 23, where a nice family with 3 small children, dressed in church clothes, had set up a table in their front yard, and were handing out bottles of water, and pieces of oranges and bagels. I tripped over a dropped bottle of water and screamed “Motherf—er!” at the top of my lungs. I felt so bad. At the end of the race, my mother asked me if I was sore at all. I simply responded “My pinkies.” Apparently she looked confused, so a volunteer suggested that I meant only my pinkies didn’t hurt. I’m so glad he could read my mind.

  42. If you ever want to be trained to cut down that time Shauny, let me know! You have an open invite to the Venicemarathon, remember!

  43. Oh my goodness, I’m getting flashbacks from Duke of Edinburgh hikes (and I think those were only about 15 miles… though with a big rucksack).

    I think I would have failed to be classy altogether and just died in a gutter. But you didn’t! Go you!

    I will join everyone in saying that you look discouragingly good in those last photos, especially having been awake and walking for that long!

  44. Congratulations! I know exactly how bloody exhausting the Sunday is as I did it last year.

    My tastiest ever bacon sarnie was at Granton where some lovely men had driven to cook bacon sarnies for their wives and were merrily doaling out the extras to anyone who wanted one – bliss. Then there was a mile around the shore that felt like about 3, and from about mile 22 on I couldn’t function apart from putting one foot in front of the other. I too wanted to kill all those people who had finished and was irrationally pissed off that they didn’t shout encouragement to those of us unfortunate enough to still be walking. Anyway I got home sat on a chair and couldn’t even take my own shoes off – now thinking that a wheely office chair could have been very handy… Quite up for doing it again actually but I have had over a year to recover!

    Anyway congrats again and thanks for the funny post to remind me of the pain, misery and ultimately quite enjoyable (n a sick twisted way) night.

  45. Hiya Shauny. Haven’t been in for a while and I’m enjoying the catch up.

    Your story reminded me of our Relay For Life which we do once a year for the Aust Cancer Council. We walk for 24 hours from noon to noon although we can have breaks as long as there is at least one person from our team walking. I’ve got till October to get into shape again. Groan!!

    Congrats on getting in and giving it a go even if it did mean pain and misery.

    I have very clear recollection of my husband and son trying to get me up the stairs and into bed after a very long marathon. My hubby ‘goosed’ me all the way up those stairs to keep me walking even though I was in agony.

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