My foot is hurting, there's no getting away from it. I am reduced to a very slow walk, taking nothing more than small birdlike steps.
Last week, after I walked to Colwyn Bay there was a very sharp pain inside my heel and I wasn't able to put any weight on the foot. Now, after a week of rest, it's receded to a bruised ache, with sharper pain coming if I walk for more than an hour at a time.
I managed to walk 5 miles today; stretching my calves regularly and strapping underneath the foot with tape. It doesn't feel too bad tonight, no throbbing or aching. I just need to keep this up for another 6 months.
I told myself when I was resting that I'd just set off and take it easy; 5 miles a day would be fine. I'd just walk slowly up the Conwy valley, letting go of timings and targets.
The things is, it's different while I'm doing it. My body may be walking slowly but my poor overactive brain moves at a quicker pace than my feet and there are minutes, hours to fill with thinking.
Entire scenarios flash before me, quick as blinking. Five miles a day is awful; I'm not quick enough, I'm stupid and ponderous and slow, my stomach flops over the belt of my rucksack, I'm chubby and ridiculous, I'm the worst walker ever. I am a strong, powerful woman. I am wonderful and amazing and at the end of this walk, when I finish triumphant I'll be able to write a book and never work again, I'll be able to sit in fields and read books forever. I've damaged my foot, I'll have to stop, next month, at the end of the week, tomorrow, right now, what will I do, go back to work, end of the walk, no more adventure, I just need to take it easy, it's ok, don't worry, pace yourself, five miles is fine....all this within the space of a few steps.
There's nothing to distract me from myself, I'm left alone with hours to ponder.
I come out of my brain sometimes and realise that the birds are singing; they've been singing the whole time and I haven't been listening.
Or I come out of the mental blindness where I am replaying old arguments or forging fresh relationships (mostly sexual, let's face it) and realise that my head is down and I an staring at the road. There are flowers to look at, a river to follow. The air is thick with heat and the plants around me are bursting, fecund, spewing seed heads into space, floating hopeful in the air. There is a whole world here for me to savour and I am shutting the blinds and disappearing into my imagination.
Today was hard, is what I'm saying. This walk is about so much more than a physical challenge; it's about pushing my mind to constant acceptance and assimilation of change. I must push forward, strive to achieve what is extraordinary (for me), accept pain as normal, throbbing feet, clicking knees, a heavy rucksack, the discomfort of sleeping outside, of turning an ankle in an uneven field, of finding my way across the countryside, of walking every day for 8 hours, of keeping going, being stubborn, not stopping, focused onward, onward but then somehow also I must, I Must, if this walk is to succeed, practice self care, love my body, listen to myself, know when to stop.
It's really bloody hard! But then I think you know that already, don't you.