Bristol, Walking

Walking in Bristol

We’ve been back in Bristol for a week now, and what a week!

The M Shed and Crane 29

I’d like to say that Bristol is flatter than Albufeira, but that would be a lie.  For some reason I seem to have a penchant for living in places at the top of really big hills! I’ve had a great time walking around my home city this week.  I’ve really been working on being ‘present’ and so have taken the time to really take in my surroundings.  Bristol is a stunning, eclectic city – which takes you from the narrow streets and passages of St Nicholas Market and the old part of town, around the harbourside, (where we saw the work taking place on Crane 29) right up to the wide open spaces of the Downs, all of which are beautiful in their own way.  I’ve lived in Bristol, on and off, for almost 30 years and I’m beginning to realise just how much variety there is here and what fantastic sights there are to be seen, if you take the time to look.

This past Sunday I took part in the Bristol 10k.  I nearly didn’t.  I knew I couldn’t run and from my running days I have to admit I have a bit of a negative opinion of people who

Walking along the Portway

walk races (actually a lot of a negative opinion).  I mean, these are clearly people who didn’t bother to train!  So there we were, myself and my friend, lined up to start the race; a race where I could never hope to achieve a PB.  Both of us are injured runners and had entered the race when we were able of achieving a respectable time for a 10k.  I have to admit it was a real eye-opener.  As we set off people were clapping and shouting ‘well done, girls’, ‘good on you for having a go’.  After about 1km of this I asked my friend why people were shouting out to us as if we were last.  How she laughed.  ‘But we are last, we started the race last’.  In that moment all of my fears about coming last in a race went out of the window.  We were walking and had started the race in last place, achieving a ‘good for age place’ was clearly not going to be an option.  However, we did not finish in last place – oh no!  Slowly we passed other people, and even managed a bit of a jog to the line – there was no way the tangerine dream was beating me!

What really amazed me about the race was the support of the people.  The number of people who stayed out to wait for all competitors to walk by.  None of the marshals left their post until the last competitor had passed them by.  The course was not dismantled before we had walked by.  The bands were still playing, the dancers were still dancing.  We were clapped, cheered, encouraged:  one little girl was very excited by my friend’s blue hair.  I saw all of these things, because I was present, because I was walking, because I was not focussed on a pb, because all that mattered was enjoying the experience.  Would I do it again? Absolutely – it was the best race experience I have had to date.  If nothing else, I can certainly beat my finishing time of 1 hour 40 minutes!  I finally got the Bristol 10k running top that I have coveted ever since I moved to Bristol – not at all in the manner I imagined it would happen.

Walking around Bristol, an ecletic mix.

A real low this week was a trip to the physio for a sports massage.  I’ve been caught in a cycle of running, injury, rest, running, injury and rest for the best part of 6 months – hence the decision to walk the Bristol 10k and set up this blog.  I really need a more positive exercising experience which motivates me to get out through the front door.  The visit to the physio confirmed my suspicions, most of my muscles are tight and damaged and running is not likely to feature highly in my future.  In particular, the switching from Bristol to the cobbles and hills of Albufeira will have been playing havoc with my legs and somewhere along the way I have done untold damage.  Whilst I went along knowing this was the likely outcome, it was still hugely disappointing.

So far this month I have walked 44 miles towards a target of 100 miles for May in aid of MS Therapy Tayside.  I’ve been along to a variety of gym classes that until now I have turned my nose up at – and some of them have been very hard, I have to say!  Sadly, I did have to resort to lifting girls’ weights just to make it through one class!  I’m also starting a 10 week programme building up to 10k with the Too Fat To Run Clubhouse. I don’t know how this will work, following a running programme as a walker, but I’m fairly certain that whatever happens, I will improve on my current 10k time and will enjoy finding out more about the city I call home.