My journey from 59 to ………

Archive for the tag “walking”

I don’t do resolutions …….


Did you hear the scream?

I trod on it, with both feet and not holding on to anything.

Poor thing appears to have survived, although I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.

What am I talking about?

The scales ūüėĪūüėĪūüėĪ


Now I’ve known I was going to have to do it.

I’ve known that I’ve been stuffing everything in sight down my throat. But I’ve also known that I will put a stop to it and that I will¬†get my head together.

I’ve been targetless for a while and I haven’t been able to think of a new one.

I do best with big recordable targets as was proved by the 59to60 ones. I need ones that survive ‘bad’ weeks so that I can either plan for them in advance or make up for it afterwards.

Hang on, if I can do that with exercise why can’t I do it with food????

Anyway, last night it came to me …….

TARGET ONE – in 2016 I will walk 2016 kilometres.

These will have to be recorded by GPS (or on the treadmill, boring!!!) but can be of any length (that covers any recuperation needed.)

As always, once I get ‘the big one’ the rest seem to flow.

TARGET TWO – average three training sessions per week.

Now this is going to be a ‘fail’ in week one as I’ll be in hospital and I know I’ll need some recovery time hence ‘average’.

TARGET THREE – to be leaner.

I know what the starting point is ūüė° But you don’t need to. I also know what my targets are and I’ll set myself various ‘key dates’ on the way. I am not going to be the ‘fat client’!

TARGET FOUR – to qualify as a search technician.

I’m¬†already part way through my training. Sadly this op may interfere with the throw line training and even the initial search course …… but I’m hoping not!

So that’s all sorted out then

Today my nutrition’s been good and I blasted my program at the gym ūüėÉ ¬†And I now feel better than I have in ages, strange that.

Tomorrow I have my final blood test and ‘harvesting’ in case I need some back.

Wednesday will be my last gym session and then I’ve got a massage booked.

And Thursday is operation day :-/

Now¬†I’ve never had an operation or a general anaesthetic before ¬†so I’m ending / starting the year with new experiences!

I¬†started by saying that I don’t do resolutions, but I do do targets. ¬†I failed at the final stage of the belt notch target, but I haven’t forgotten it and it would be great if, over the course of the year I could meet that too!

My next blog post will almost certainly be about my operation

In the meantime, Happy New Year everybody and get setting your targets!




Well that’s that then!

The final day, that’s it, time to finish all of my challenges. How to do it?

Well I walked into Wickford, got a train to Shenfield, then a bus into Brentwood.



Well you may have heard of Brentwood, it’s where that serious, in depth documentary about exactly what life in Essex is like is set. And you all know that I’m a typical Essex girl in that regard.So why would I be going to Brentwood?

Yeah, right!

No, I paid out ¬£6.30 to get to Brentwood ……. so that I could walk home. Obvious really!

And I took photos of things that interested me along the way. I drive the route from time to time and have noticed things but I’ve never walked and had a chance for a proper look.

Firstly the alms houses:

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One day I’ll get round to googling what ‘Shen Place’ is ……..

The route is a reasonably busy A road but it’s an interesting walk:

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In to Billericay, the other ‘typical’ tv Essex place (Gavin and Stacey) where, of course, it’s time for coffee!

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I had to put these photos in. Do you know what they are?

OK, the first one’s a lamp post but if you look carefully you’ll see the holder with the little bottle in it that there’s a close up of on the right. One day when I was out walking (admittedly not today!) I saw a man stop his car and swap the bottles, so I had to ask what it was about. He showed me a grey mesh inside the bottle and explained that there were hundreds of them around and they were used to measure air quality. Now you’d never know about that speeding round in your cars!

A                        B

Eventually I came to the most dodgy part of the route:

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No footpaths! 

Now I don’t mind no footpaths but I do like sensible drivers. The majority of drivers are lovely, they slow down and move out and protect me. But others seem to just want to kill me. It’s quite scary and nerve racking getting ready to jump out of the way. Please drivers be aware of pedestrians, cyclists and riders!

The second photo shows a bus stop. The first time I went on a really long walk I gave up at that bus stop and sat and waited for 90 minutes for a bus! Now I just keep going, and going, and going ………

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When I used to teach in London and do the long commute I would reach this stage of the journey and my ¬†shoulders would drop and I’d start to relax. Love this view ……. it’s better in sunshine though!

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Popped into the farm shop for minted lamb for dinner ūüôā

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There are some beautiful houses round here and people have spent a lot of money restoring them. Strangely the colour of the cottage looks ok in the photo, but in reality ………

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Finally I turn the last corner and I’m home again!

To the housework and the garden that have been neglected for the past year. (Who am I kidding, it’s a lot longer than that!)

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Oh, that destroyed house isn’t mine, I’m not that bad. That’s the house opposite that blew up a few years ago ….. another story!

So here’s today’s route:


To be honest, it was easy, although the ball of my left foot is suffering again, it never really recovered from Shine.

The final totals?


And what am I most proud of?

1513 miles on foot

You know, if the police asked me what I was doing on any day over the last year I could tell them, and if it was a walking day I could provide evidence including a map!

Well, it’s done, it’s over, time to move on ………………………

………………….. to a new set of challenges that start tomorrow!

59 to 60 is over, but the blogs will continue.

What should I change the name to though?

Progress report (updated)

228 days ago I started my challenges, and today I reached another milestone …….. literally!

Having hurt my core (silly, silly me) I embarked an a mission and, today, I arrived at:

I have now covered 1233 miles. 900 on foot and 333 cycling. That’s an average of 5.4 miles a day! That’s amazing!!!!!

You have to remember that for the vast majority of my life I would not walk. Then I hit the period when, due to my MS, I could not walk and now I won’t stop walking!!!!!

And now I’ve done this!

I should be elated, I expected to be elated, but I’m not.

I’m actually a bit disappointed.

333 miles were done by bike. Don’t know why this irritates me as that in itself is quite an achievement bearing in mind what my bike riding was like.

I’ve walked 900 miles. Well, that’s a bit of a lie as I reckon I probably ran about 10 of them (in short spurts you understand, not all in one go!) I want to have walked 1000 miles.

Well, all I can say is that I will!

As to my other challenges, they’re all progressing,

and I’m ahead of target in all of them!

Felt obliged to write this tonight but, for some obscure reason, I’m a bit tired, so I’ll leave it at that!

Night, night.

BTW I need to add that all of these distances have been measured by my Garmin GPS watch. If I added on the miles covered when walking indoors or without the GPS turned on ………. But I’m not going to even think about that!


Since writing this I’ve used the map as the wallpaper on my iPhone. Every time I turn it on I’m reminded about how far I’ve come. It really is a positive motivational tool, try it, it’s definitely worked for me. Every time I turn on my phone I smile and I am now proud of what I’ve achieved!

I also started working on my journey home, planning to see if I could swap the 300+ miles I cycled into miles walked. I then discovered that, instead of the 882 kilometres I thought I’d got left, it’s actually 1105! I¬†foresee¬†more cycling!!!!

Oh, and my core? That seems to have finally recovered but everything is now so tight. I need to make my foam roller my best friend again!

So what progress on my ‘core’ challenge?

None! Absolutely none! And it’s all my own fault ūüė¶

Remember how I found one of the exercises¬†completely¬†impossible? Well, after writing my blog I thought “I’m NOT going to let this beat me”, got down on the floor and started trying to do it.

Did I warm up first? No. Well it’s only lying¬†down¬†isn’t it?

Will I ever learn??????

I worked and worked at the exercise, probably for about half an hour, and by the end my elbow and my knee were meeting.

“Great, conquered that, I’ll build on it tomorrow at the gym”¬†and off to bed I went.

Fast forward to the next morning. I wake up, go to get out of bed and¬†“Ow!!!!!!!!!”

I could not move! I was stuck in bed.

I had to, very gently, roll over onto my side, drop my legs out of the bed and push myself upright. This was not good.

Flashback time: When I was HUGE, this was what my life was like. I was a beached whale. I always had to get out of bed like that. I’ve got a memory foam bed so you do (well I did) sink right into it and I ALWAYS had trouble getting out of it. Now I wake up, don’t even think, contract the core, sit upright, turn and stand …. or I did ……..

Being truly stupid, I then had breakfast, got dressed, went to the gym and tried to do my usual stuff! Ha, ha!

Saturday was spent in London having lunch, and laughs, with a group of ‘virtual’ friends I had never actually met so I was kept out of trouble.

Well at least until we came out of the restaurant and I saw this:

So Sunday came and to prove just how stupid I can be I repeated the struggle out of bed …….. go to the gym routine. No chance.

Monday … first part of the warm up = pain. OK, enough!!

Time for a rethink. I’m going to have to give my body time to recover so ……… let’s go walking!

I sat and looked at my schedule and worked out that I was 148 kilometres from John o’Groats. Is that all?

I decided that I was going to get there before my next session with Darryl in 11 days time.

So on Monday I walked 18.1 km + 7.5 on the exercise bike (harder than a real bike ‘cos no downhill bits!)

Tuesday 22.3 km walked, 4 km on the bike.

Today 26.6 km walked, 11.5 on the bike.

I will do this!

Just one thing though. Do you remember my ‘marathon’ blister? Well all this walking is disturbing it a bit.

I just hope my core gets better before my foot gives out!


Earlier in the week I got this magazine in the post.

At the time I was very disappointed and started to work out plans to get a place next year.

But first of all there was the small matter of the Shine Walking Marathon in London this weekend. This is an annual event organised by, and to raise money for, Cancer Research.

So, on Saturday, I drove across to Kent to meetup with Dawn, Kelly and Laura. We set off for Battersea Power Station where we met up with Debbie for the start.

There were people travelling in from all over dressed in their Shine tee shirts. Apparently 10,000 people were involved!

So, what last minute preparations did we do? Whilst some of us got food, Dawn and I shopped! I bought a light up headdress, whistle and long sleeved T-shirt but at the last minute went back and got the flashing laces. Big mistake!!!!!

Eventually the clock ticked round to 9pm, and off we set.


Initially we were making good time but then it started to go wrong ūüė¶

I walk, I walk a lot but those laces were a major problem. They were much shorter than my usual laces and only fitted in a few of the holes on my trainers, so they didn’t support my feet properly. I could feel my feet sliding around inside my trainers and the blisters developing on the soles of my feet.

The first water station was at 5 miles and I changed back into my normal laces but by then the damage was done.

Why did I do it? No idea, it seemed such a good idea at the time. I know not to wear new clothes. I know not to wear new trainers so why on earth didn’t I think of the damage the laces could do? What a ****!

Still only 21.2 miles to go!

So off we all set, and after a very short distance I could tell there was trouble ahead ūüė¶

I walk, I walk a lot …. but it wasn’t long before I realised that my feet were slipping inside my trainers and the sole of my feet were rubbing. It was particularly bad on my left foot.

When we reached the 5 mile water station I changed back into my old laces, but it was too late. The damage had been done.

Why did I do it? Who knows! I know not to wear new clothes on these occasions in case they rub. I know never to wear new trainers for the same reason. But it never occurred to me the effect that laces could have.

Still, on we went.

Laura and Kelly strode off into the distance and, as Dawn and my feet got worse (she finally changed her laces too), Debbie moved ahead of us as well. But would we give up? What do you think?

Now, although I walk a lot I tend to go 10K, Costa, 10K, Costa. But they were shut.

And then we saw this:

Happy times!

Except that they wouldn’t serve us a coffee. Nor would the next one, or the one after that.

Things were looking bad when we came upon the welcome????? sight of a MacDonald’s that was open!

Now normally I would not even consider going into MacDonald’s but:

a) this wasn’t a normal set of circumstances and

b) it would be hard to consider Dawn and I as ‘normal’ especially when we’re together

so in we went.

While we were waiting a man came in and went past us in the queue. He had no chance! “Excuse me, there’s a queue over here” I smiled. He was apologetic and joined the queue behind us. As we stood there he asked what we were doing and we explained that it was a walking marathon for Cancer Research. When we ordered our cappuccinos he insisted on paying for them and offered to buy us some food as well. We declined the food but accepted the coffees thanking him profusely. He then asked if any of the other walkers wanted anything and the woman behind him stridently asked for a tea and coffees for her friends on the other side of the building. This was somewhat¬†embarrassing¬†but it got worse. This extremely generous man held out a fist full of change ¬†saying it wasn’t much (it was, there were quite a few pound coins there) and offered it to me for the charity. Dawn and I were thanking him and saying it wasn’t necessary when the same woman shot her hand forward and grabbed the money!!!!!!

Anyway, I would like to thank him, and apologise for her!

After our welcome break we carried on with our walk all around London. We passed all the well-known sights but only took pictures of a few!


Mostly the event was very well organised but I have to make one complaint. Half an hour is too long to queue for a toilet! There really need to be more available!

The night wore on, the sky got lighter and our feet hurt more and more. By the end we were in serious trouble and were both dreading putting our feet on the ground. Every time we saw the bobbly bits you have to walk over at crossings we groaned anticipating the pain. When we had to step up and down kerbs we stood trying to work out which part of our feet to land on they hurt so much.


But we are not quitters and, eventually we got back to the start having walked 27 miles.

And we got our medals.

This was it:

To say we were disappointed would be a bit of an understatement. This is not a medal, it’s more like an identity card on a lanyard!

But we were finally reunited with the others who’d kindly waited for us (Kelly and Laura had finished ages earlier!)

We’d raised a lot of money for charity (massive thanks to all my sponsors) and had quite a few laughs along the way.

Now the others are runners and they felt that walking a marathon’s a lot harder than running one but I think they just need a bit more practice so having had a look about I came across this:


Well it’s got to be worth thinking about!

The not so secret progress of Gill aged 59¬ľ

So, I’m now 3 months into my challenges and it’s time for an update.

I’m really surprised at how quickly the time has gone and, despite some pretty atrocious weather, I’m slightly ahead of target at this point!

Mount Everest – I’ve now climbed 3924 feet (27.1%) which is more than Mount Snowdon. Makes you realise just how big Everest is!

I’ve walked 394 miles and cycled 88 so I’m past Lands End and heading up through England. (27% done). Have to admit that I’m probably more surprised by this than anyone else could be. Blue Badge? Walking sticks? How has my life changed!

59 miles of the River Thames (27.5%) has been covered, fortunately there’s no wave machine on the rowing machines at the gym. I used to hate the rowing machine but now I can keep going on it for ages. Shows how my fitness levels have changed.

I’ve lifted 272456 kg which is 42,904 stones!!! (27.2% of my target). Wow!

I’m now in a pretty good routine. I do my resistance training (the weights) every other day and I’m to be found wandering the streets clocking up the miles, climbing the steps and sculling (?) the rowing machines in between. I’ve invested in waterproofs so the rain isn’t going to stop me!

Not the most flattering photo but at least it kept me dry!

So the targets I set myself are going fine and there’s not that much that even I can say about them! I could tell you the routes I walk, I could say which rowing machine I prefer and why …… but it’s not very interesting!

Regular readers (lol!!!!) will remember that when this all started Darryl said he’d be setting me random challenges to stop me getting bored. They’ve certainly succeeded! Not only have I enjoyed doing (most of) them some of them have continued to have an impact.

I think I’ve changed quite a lot over the last 3 months.

For the first time in over 40 years (aargh) I am riding a bike. I’ve now reached the point where I could probably survive without stabilisers (if they’d ever made them for people my size) and I will go on quiet roads. But, I’m too scared to do busy roads …… tend to end up on the pavements but I think everyone I meet understands why and doesn’t complain.

I’m now a better / more considerate driver. Everybody should be made to go for long walks or cycle rides on roads without footpaths. You can tell the drivers that have. They slow down as they approach and then pull round leaving you space. Other drivers seem to speed up and try to keep as close to the kerb (and me!) as possible.

If I meet up with any Chinese people coming to the Olympics I’ll be able to say ‘Hello, my name is Gill Castle’. I can smile and they will feel very welcomed and happy. If, however, they answer in any way or ask me any questions it will become completely obvious that I have no idea what is going on! But the thought’s what counts, isn’t it?

I’ve met so many new people and learned so much about what other people are doing and the reasons why. There are so many interesting people and stories out there and walking slows you down so you see and hear things. I love hearing little, out of context, snippets of conversation as I wander about. Lets my imagination run riot as I make up all sorts of backgrounds and scenarios for the people I see.

Remember I was challenged to try yoga for 2 weeks? Well I’m still going. As I’m a bit of a bull in a china shop it’s really good for me to do something that slows me down, makes me concentrate and really makes me work on my balance. I love the relaxation / meditation aspects and I’m getting better at shutting off. I even think I may be getting a little tiny bit more flexible.

I do my resistance program before yoga and I’m really interested in seeing how high my heart rate goes then and how low it drops in yoga. Current record is 165 and 59, but I’m working on it.

I always wear my heart rate monitor when I’m training. I know it’s ridiculous but it doesn’t feel like I’m doing it unless it’s being recorded. My latest fascination is seeing how quickly my heart rate drops when I stop training. I’ve always been a bit of a data geek! I started by looking at it after 30 seconds and then again after a minute. Might tell you more when I’ve got more data. I love the graphs of my heart rate that I get from my Garmin, it’s great how I can pick out exactly what exercise I was doing at each point.

Nutrition. 3 weeks ago I was challenged to stick to ‘The Ancestral Solution’. See my last blog. I am still eating like that, I really like it! We’d agreed that I’d now do 85% Ancestral but, at the moment, I’m doing much better than that. I haven’t eaten anything not on the list (apart from a protein bar when I woke up because I was so hungry) but I have had skinny cappuccinos and I’m more than happy with those. I’m eating far more frequently needing food every couple of hours and I now seem to carry food with me wherever I go. I am a bit worried about what I’ll do when I go to the Olympic Park though. McDonalds and Coca Cola? How can that be healthy? The thought of it actually makes me feel a bit ill now ……

I’m halfway through this week’s challenge of using a foam roller for at least half an hour a day and I can already see and feel the difference.

Well obviously I can feel the difference because foam rollering hurts! People who know me know that I don’t do ironing but foam rollering is like ironing but instead of heat, pressure is used to sort out the bumps and knots. It hurts, but it works and the more you do it the easier it gets. Have a look on You Tube for foam roller exercises. Now I’ve used a foam roller before but the first exercise Darryl’s given me to do is a new one for me, lying on the roller so that my head is supported and my spine is on the length of the roller. Then I have to relax and let my body drop either side for 5-6 minutes. This seems to have made a huge difference to my posture.

When I’m walking along, wearing my rucksack, I’m very aware that I tend to tense and hunch my shoulders so, at regular intervals, I make a deliberate effort to lift my shoulders then drop them back into the correct position. Since doing this exercise on the roller I’ve noticed that when I’m walking and try to ‘put them back’, they are already there!

I’ve also noticed that I’m sleeping better, I’m calmer (most of the time!) and my body shape is continuing to change (oh I love discovering a ‘new’ muscle!)

This week several other people have commented that I’ve lost weight – so it’s not just me thinking it!

So 25% down, 75% to go. How do I feel about this? Excited and looking forward to it. I’m loving pushing myself and making myself go out there and get on with it even when I don’t feel like it.

The random challenges amuse, entertain and push me out of my (increasingly wide) comfort zone. They really do help stop me getting bored.

Now I know that I am chronologically considerably older than most of the people who are reading this post, although I very much doubt if I am in many other ways, but I now believe that everybody should have a goal(s) that they are trying to achieve.

What’s your next milestone?

What’s your next challenge?

Leave a comment telling me, I really want to know.

If I can do this …… and I can, and I will ……… what can you do???????

I am buzzing!!!!

Two months in ……. and what a week it’s been!

Time to get back to reporting on my progress towards my original goals!

Firstly the random challenges, and they sure have been random!

  • 2 mins 15 secs static squat ‚ąö
  • training session not putting ViPR down ‚ąö
  • learning ‘My name is Gill Castle & this is my year of challenges’ in Mandarin ‚ąö
  • training session – 10 x 3 minute boxing rounds ‚ąö
  • try to juggle ‚ąö (well I did try!)
  • training session – speed & agility alternating with ViPR ‚ąö

Last week was the gym fitness challenge; that was hard! The most difficult part was going from a 2 km bike ride straight into a lap of the gym doing walking lunges with 2x8kg¬†kettlebells. Ouch! And then onto the crosstrainer¬†…. Seven activities and I managed to get the time down to 41 minutes 28 seconds. Very pleased with that, except I’m going to have to try and beat it later in the year.

This week we had the ‘sand’ challenge. We trained outside. Hooray, hooray. I love training outside! Running and walking down to the beach (to touch the sand) pausing to use ‘street furniture’ for pull ups, push ups, dips, squats and lunges. We haven’t done that for a long time and I was amazed at how much stronger I am now. When we used to do dips from the bench I’d be wanting to stop after a few but now I can keep going and, apparently, my range is better too!

When we got to the sea wall I had to stand on it and do squats and lunges. Now you can see the wall isn’t very high …. on this side! But it’s quite a drop on the other side and I’m still a bit of a coward so it was scary! I hadn’t run for a long while either but I enjoyed it which was a good job because …….

……. I had a race booked for Saturday! D. knew this and knew I only planned to walk it but after he’d snuck running into training I had to have a go! Met up with my ‘running friends’ at Bedgebury Pinetum, beautiful place. Now this run is very well organised with lots of signs and marshalls. So how did I get lost? Who knows, it could only happen to me. But I would not cheat and ended up going in the opposite direction to everybody else, trying to cover my number up as if it was the most natural thing in the world! In the photos below the top route was the correct one! Had a fantastic day with lots of freebies!


So how are the MAIN challenges going? Pretty well, I’m on target with all of them.

I’ve climbed 5,147 feet (which is higher than Mount Snowdon)

I’ve rowed / waded¬†60 km¬†(over 37 miles)

I’ve lifted 178,240 kg (over 28,000 stones)

But most of all, and the reason I’m so happy and proud of myself ………

…………. I have reached Lands End!!!! In two months I have walked / cycled 515 km. Quick conversion …. I walked 286.4 miles and cycled 35.6.

I can’t quite believe I’ve done this, but I have!

Onwards and upwards to John O’Groats …… it does look a long way away ……. but I’m not going to let that stop me!!!!

Week 3 progress report

Week 3 is now complete, well it will be in 14 hours, and I am on target!

So, how’s it been going?

Climbing Everest – only did 6 sets of the steps this week. I was ahead of schedule so that was fine. Had a couple of woozy turns on the steps, did wonder if it might be because the air quality was decreasing as I got higher ….. but the response I got indicated that perhaps it was more likely to be due to not having eaten enough!

Lands End – I’m still on my way and still on target. Can’t believe that I’ve cycled just over 19 km this week and that I, and everybody else, are still in one piece! I’m beginning to get the hang of the gears a bit better now which means that I don’t have to stop as often to sort the chain out. I’m also starting to use the roads a little more, but there is one major problem. I can’t even let go of the handlebars to scratch my nose, my hand gets half way there and then panics and returns to the handle. This makes signalling rather difficult, so I talk to the car drivers! Seems to work with those who are facing me. Funny how they all seem to be very good lip readers, or could it be that they are just excellent at interpreting non verbal communication from my rather over expressive face! Anybody behind me had just better watch out!

I continue to thoroughly enjoy my walking. Not surprising when there are beautiful places locally and the weather has been perfect.


The River Thames is also on target, I’m almost getting to enjoy the rowing machine and it hasn’t yet tried to kill me again!

Finally, the weights. My favourite part! Have to say that this program is still challenging me after 3 weeks, but I am really enjoying it! Bruises are fading and reducing as my technique improves as well.

Bit grey and cold today ūüė¶ but the forecast’s good so looking forward to getting out there.

BTW, on Saturday I’m going to my neighbour’s 90th birthday party, who thinks 60 will be old????

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