Note #195 // The London To Brighton Trek: The hardest thing I've ever done.

It's tough being the little one.

I never get the arm rest on the tube, am physically overlooked a lot of the time and feel like my height affects my power as a person. Being a diminutive figure, just makes me feel like I have to work harder to be heard, seen, and taken seriously. 

But on Saturday 27th June these little legs started a long journey. One that would take me from the edges of London to the highest point of Brighton. Down winding paths, past the pretty houses, barges and canal boats along the Surrey Hills. It would take me through fields, totally unshielded from the sun for ten mile stretches at a time.

Through the pain, we walked. Through the night, we trod. With blistered, bandaged feet, we marched on.

The night had to be one of the biggest mental challenges. Feeling like we were checking off checkpoints left, right and centre during the day, as night fell, so did the feel of momentum. It was only fully dark for about five hours, but not feeling much sense of progression really messed with our heads. We were grateful to see the sun.

But when it did come up, having been awake since 5.15am the previous morning, I was walking along the path diagonally; actually falling asleep while walking. I had to use my water supply to splash over my face and get with the programme.

The hardest part for me was the 80-85km stretch. We had been averaging about 5km an hour, but having been on the trot for some twenty five hours, I just lost the plot. I had no sense of time, I just knew it was taking me forever to get anywhere. I had been bursting into random bouts of tears for the last few check points, but this has to be when I was most angry. Angry for putting myself though this, not being better, walking faster; for losing the usb wire for my EE charger, so I couldn't charge my phone or listen to music, for packing my bag too heavily. I told Laura to walk ahead, and even seeing her become a smaller and smaller dot and knowing I still had that ground to cover, incensed me. I remember being in the middle of a field on my own and wanting to break the walking poles (they weren't mine, so best not to!), and throw the most epic of tantrums. 

But there was no one to come and get me, so the only way was forward. 

I collapsed at checkpoint eight of ten. Sleepless and hungry, I fainted. I came to, and the medic told me that there was just the slight chance that I was finding it difficult because I had six blisters and a pressure sore! Now forgive me, but I hadn't ever had a blister before, so God knows how long I had been walking on those things, just thinking it was pain and fatigue from such an exhaustive effort. I fainted again, and was taken to the penultimate check point.

They offered to take me to the end, and said I'd still get the medal, but nope. Having messages of support, emails come through saying people were donating as I was walking, and more than anything, my stubborn pride, meant I wanted to cross the line myself. So after a two hour break, a sausage bap, and being reunited with Laura, we walked the last 8k together. Along the entirety of Brighton Beach and up a hill so high, it might as well have been called a mountain. Some thirty hours later, we crossed the line.

So what did I learn? 
That Britain is bloody beautiful. Absolutely Stunning. I wish I'd had more time to take it in, and take more photographs, but you know, I kind of had something else on my mind. 

A reminder of the wondrous nature of simplicity
Do you know how good a jacket potato, beans and cheese tastes at four in the morning after you've walked 60km? Or a simple cup of tea in a polystyrene cup at 7am after walking through the night? Sometimes we just need to strip shit back. That, and that a cup of tea does in fact solve everything.

That achievement is achievement
I really thought the 9.7km I missed would niggle me. Make me feel like, yeah, you got the medal, but you didn't really do it. But do you know what? Fuck that shit. I walked for thirty and a half hours. I walked 92 kilometres on a previous night's sleep totalling 4 1/2 hours. I raised £500 for the British Heart Foundation. You don't always have to completed something to have achieved something. And sometimes, your best effort feels like winning anyway. 

And it's reminded me that even though I'm 5"2, I shouldn't make myself so small figuratively. I am mighty and I climb mountains. Quite literally.

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