I almost died once.
Standing on the edge of a cliff in Mallorca, it was windy and a little drizzly. We were looking at how the waves and sea had eroded the land. I was about two feet from the edge, with my back to the ocean. I took a tiny step backwards and lost my footing. I was on my way back over the edge when my pal grabbed my arm and pulled me towards him. If I'd fallen in, it was about 50 metres down and we were right above a wave cut platform. I'd have hit the cliff face with a huge force. When I realised what had almost happened, I felt giddy with exhileration, what had almost happened. The dolphins were released and I was shaking with fear and disbelief, extatic that I wasn't in the sea. Glad to feel the cool breeze on my face. Only the people who were right there, at that very moment knew it was a close shave. People thought I'd exaggerated the story for dramatic effect. I haven't.
Last Sunday, I faced something even scarier. I had signed up for the bigfoot, previous posts will give you an idea of how much of a struggle it would be. I was expecting pure hell, and I got it. The morning started badly. We were looking for a big museum, not a terrace and google maps took us all round Armagh so ended up a tiny bit late. Then the mega queue for the bathroom meant they started without us. After a few panicked moments we worked out where to go and saw yellow high viz vests up ahead. We walked through Armagh to Benburb, all I could think the whole time was 'the bear went over the mountain', a ridiculous song a guy called Tom Sweeney used to sing at school every xmas. We walked by lots of families who'd came outside for a nosy. One man offered fresh apples from his orchard, another family were singing! Then 2miles from Benburb we had a lovely lady offering to let us use her bathroom!
We had lunch and the second half was hard. Really hard. I had to keep stopping to stretch out my leg muscles. It was a pleasure pain thing- stopping was nice, but getting going again was so hard. I don't remember much of the second half, except seeing the sign for Moygashel, seeing the finishing point so, so far away on the horizion, having Stephen drive by every now and again checking on us, deep freezing my legs and running out of conversation with Laura. Seeing her mum at Dungannon Park helped her lots, she ran at one stage. Seeing her spirits lifted helped me. Walking into Dungannon was a pleasure/pain thing. I HATE Dungannon, I worked just outside it for a while, and it's a kip. A hilly kip. The finish line was at the very top of the town. It almost killed us getting there, but we made it. Sore, crying, wanting to die, hungry and tired but alive. We had walked 18 miles, defied the odds, Laura hadn't complained once even though she was so ill the week before, Laura had the biggest knee i've ever seen and both of us struggled to move our legs. I never did get the endolphins like I did on that cliff, I never felt that buzz of facing a challenge and kicking it's ass. Defying the odds and making it through. But I did discover a love for walking with Laura.
I owe huge thank you's to everyone who sponsored me, Stephen and Eugene, Rachel at Active Health (for without you I'd be unable to walk now, even if you did cause me extreme pain at the time!) and to everyone who tweeted while we were out. We read every tweet out, laughed at you all, and at some stages sighed in disbelief that your rubbish jokes Rob ;)
I also owe a mega thanks to Laura. Irrelevant of which one of us is to blame for the whole thing- I wouldn't have got through it without you. I wouldn't have even signed up. You're a wee legend but no to the Inca Trail...