Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wednesday 18 March – Emma's here!

Current location: Eveleigh 
11.11am, Being excited! Emma's at my house! She's been one of my all-times besties since we met on the first day of Uni in 2004. Yep, 11 years of laughing, drinking and loving each other very much. She and her awesome boyfriend Brodie are travelling for a year and, luckily for me, their first stop is Australia! Gosh, I love this girl.

They arrived this morning, and I let them in, squealed a lot, then went to work and willed the day to go quickly so I could get back home to them... Emma text me these pics of what they were up to (Em being excited, Brodie napping!). 

In the evening, Emma and I ended up playing netball while Brodie cheered and Andy worked, then we all came home and had yummy dinner. Just like normal, but with my bestie by my side. 

Sunday 15 March – The season has started

Current location: A train somewhere in Sydney
11.11am, On our way to Olympic Park. Today is the Swifts' first home game of the season, so Ducky and I were on our way to cheer them on. Playing the Firebirds (who made the grand final last year) was always going to be a tough ask, especially as the Firebirds have a great away record, but then again, the Swifts are amazing!

It was so good to be out and watching them again; they're an inspiring team to see play and I love watching live sport. Anyway, the game was pretty intense from the start, with the Swifts on the back foot pretty much from the beginning. By the final quarter, we were 8 goals down... But being the comeback queens that we are, Swifts fought back and the game ended in a draw. Pretty exciting stuff! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saturday 14 March – Up early, home early

Current location: Alexandria
11.11am, Reading on the couch. Andy was still asleep (!), and I had already been up for a few hours, been to an exercise class, watched a netball match, replied to some emails and was now curled up on the couch making the most of a quiet weekend. When he arose, Andy and I had a yummy breakfast then went to Tamarama beach to enjoy the sunshine.

A few hours of beach time later, we went around to Bronte to see some friends, then came back to our hood, and went for dinner at a new Mexican we hadn't been to before. The food was amazing but it was so slow to come out, so we were both starrrrving by the time it arrived, then so stuffed full once we'd scoffed it all. Plans of going for a drink afterwards went out the window, and we just came back home instead.

Friday 13 March – Monster Children

Current location: Erskineville
11.11pm, At Hive Bar. We were having some drinks and seeing where the night would take us. After work, Andy and I hopped on our bikes and dodged the rain showers to meet Nick at his friend's 30th. Next up was a magazine launch party, which was really funny and very hipster. Then back to Erko to meet Colin and Christabel. We had a few more drinks, a lot more laughs (mainly at drunken Andy) and then it turns out that the place the night was taking us to was back home to go to sleep!

Monday 9 March – Same city, again!

Current location: Eveleigh
11.11am, Texting my lovely friend Saman about meeting tonight. We used to live together in London and she is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. She's been living in Karachi, Pakistan, and then Boston, US, and – luckily for me! – has just moved to Sydney, Australia!!
We went for a delicious Thai dinner and caught up on the past four years or so since we last met up!

(Picture taken from one of the first days we ever met!)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday 8 March – Back to the Northern Beaches

Current location: Palm Beach
11.11am, Eating breakfast. After not going to Palm Beach for more than a year, I've now gone twice in one weekend. Sha and Tristan stayed up here for the weekend, for Tris' birthday, so Nick, Bree and I came to meet them for brunch at the Boathouse. I ate French toast made from croissant (so french!) and showed everyone my medal. Then we went and lay on the beach for a while – the very same spot where we started our walk on Friday – and then I went back home and had a massage. When I say a massage, I actually mean three hours of massage treatments. So blissed out.

Saturday 7 March – The day after the long walk

Current location: Manly
11.11am, At Jess' house. Despite Andy and my intention to do absolutely nothing today, we both woke up early (aching!) and realised Andy had left his wallet and keys with his parents... who were going to be in Manly today. So we drove over there and had a yummy brunch with Jess, Dave and Val. I haven't had a proper catch-up with Jessie for a while, so I hung out in their lovely new place, then she and I went for a swim in the late afternoon. The cold seawater felt soooo good on my achy limbs!

Feeling all spontaneous and weekendy, we decided to go for a few drinks, then sat at the Bavarian Beer House on the wharf for a few hours, trying out strange drinks (as I've given up wine and beer for Lent) and watching the sun go down. Drinks turned into dinner, which turned into another drink, and I got on the ferry to go home at about 9pm, feeling thoroughly like I was on holiday!

Friday 6 March – Coastrek 2015

Current location: Northern Beaches
11.11am, Walking. Today is Coastrek!!! It's a 55km walk that four of us decided to do months ago, and today's the day. We woke up at 5am, packed our bags full of protein bars and filled up our Camelbaks with litres of water. It was set to be a hot one today, and we had 15 hours of walking ahead of us!

We were all pretty excited when we got to Palm Beach; there were hundreds of others all milling around, getting their high-vis jackets on, getting their last-minutes bits packed up, strapping up knees, ankles, toes, and applying sunscreen.

As we made our way down onto the beach, none other than Ray Martin started us off! It was 7am, and we started strong, getting through the start gates fast to try and get ahead of lots of the others. There were a few hundred people starting at the same time as us, and just a few minutes in was a big set of stairs to get up a big hill, so we didn't want to get stuck queueing so early on! It turns out the big hill was a mammoth hill, which we didn't expect so early on. In fact, the first 18km was hills and cliff climbs, testing our muscles, endurance and how fit we were! Not as fit as we could be, it turns out!

We passed through our first 'checkpoint' in really good time, feeling strong and happy. Just a few kilometres on, David and Val met us with food and cold water and a change of socks (blisters were already forming!). The sun was out and the four of us were all feeling great!

We set off again, up and down more hills, and along beaches, and then we hit a tough bit: walking 5km along the beach from Narrabeen to Collaroy. The tide was coming in so we were forced to walk along the soft sand, which nearly finished me off! I know it's just walking but when people talk about endurance events, and having to 'dig deep', this was the point I had to dig. It just seemed to take so long to get across that beach, especially with blisters and no shade and full sunshine, and the beginnings of sore muscles and aching shoulders – and the prospect of not even being halfway yet!!

When we reached the end of that stretch, we were all super happy (and sweaty!) and I felt very motivated by the other walkers, especially one amazing woman who we walked along with for a while. She totally distracted me with her stories and questions, and then at the end of the beach, off we walked and I didn't see her again. But a big thank you to the stranger who kept me going!!

At our next stop, at 25km, Dave and Val brought us the best thing ever: takeaway pizza!!! We ate pizza and bananas, and stocked up on more sweets and bandaged our feet up... then off we went again.

The scenery along the walk was soooo beautiful, and I loved how we were getting to see so many parts of Sydney's coastline that I had no idea about. It's such a beautiful part of the world, and it definitely distracted me from any of the pain I was feeling. My feet were getting pretty blistered, but they weren't anything compared with Chrystal's feet, which got a bad case of blisters! Poor girl. She was a trooper and just kept going through the pain.

By the time we got to the next stop, at 43km, we had walked a marathon! We were all pretty tired and over it, although I have to admit, listening to Taylor Swift was keeping my spirits up! Thanks Taylor. At the stop, in Manly, our friend Mitch came to meet us, with ice poles (these were amazing), Gatorade, lollies and lots of encouragement. I love our friends! It was weird walking through Manly because it was Friday evening by this point, the sun was starting to go down, and everyone was out on the wharf having drinks to celebrate the start of the weekend... And we were traipsing past, tired and dirty and sweaty!

Andy and I went on ahead for a while as every time he stopped he was cramping up, and before too long, the sun had gone down. It was very bizarre walking through the bush in the pitch black, with only our headtorches to help us see. It was actually really mentally draining because, even though we were so exhausted by this point, you couldn't just tune out and get in the zone... You had to keep concentrating and looking where you were going and making sure you were going the right way and weren't about to fall over!

When we emerged from the bus, we were at the Spit Bridge. Both feeling so achy and in pain, Andy and I decided to try and run a bit, just to get our bodies moving in a slightly different way (this was actually a bit of advice from the woman who walked along the Narrabeen stretch of coast with me). It helped but we both felt a bit bonkers shuffling along!

We waited about 10 minutes for Chrystal and Marc (who had taken a slight wrong turn in the dark, oops!) and while we were waiting, we both lost our minds a bit. Andy tried to fall asleep, while I lay on my back and could not stop laughing. Then we saw some rabbits, which very quickly disappeared... It was all a bit weird!! But then Chrystal and Marc arrived, looking as tired but hopeful as we were feeling, and off we went. There were 3km left! We can do this!

Our aim for the walk was to finish it in between 12 and 15 hours, and we were on track to finish it in under 15. However, as we got closer, and clearly got slower, time was ticking away. Our spirits were up and we managed a couple of songs along the way, but what helped the most in these last bits were the AWESOME people cheering us on. It was mainly children, and I wonder if they have any idea how much it carried us along, having their high-fives and encouraging words. What amazing people.

We reached Balmoral Beach, where the walk was ending, with 13 minutes to go until 10pm, which was our deadline for a 15-hour finish. We were so close to the finish line, but even at this point, there were still people who weren't sure if they could make it. I walked for a few hundred metres with a woman who I'm pretty sure was suffering from pretty severe dehydration, but was determined to finish. The human spirit is amazing!

Seven minutes before 10pm, and we were still walking along the bloody beach! We started to realise we might not actually make or 10pm deadline, but with the end in sight (literally), we rallied on... and managed to cross the finish line in 14 hours, 59 minutes and 41 seconds. Go team CLAM!

Amazing Bree was at the end to meet us with treats, then drove us home where we all fell promptly asleep.
Lots of emotions... I didn't really see it as an 'achievement', as people do much more impressive things every day but once we had finished, I was so proud of our resilience and capacity to keep going when everything was hurting. Our spirits stayed up (for the most part) and our bodies were strong and wonderful.

I'm so glad we did the walk, and managed to finish it, and do it together. Chrystal, Marc and Andy are three of my favourite people, and it was ace to experience such a challenge together, but the best bit is that we managed to raise over $3000 for the Fred Hollows Foundation, and I am so thankful to all our generous friends and family who sponsored us. THANK YOU.