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I had off!

So, now that I've signed up to walk a RIDICULOUS 50 mile walk, all in one go, the training has begun in earnest! 
The Laich o Moray Ultra Marathon 50 mile route
I used to walk long distances.  Hill walking, Munroes, you name it.  The most I've done in one day was 30 - very hard, very hilly - miles.  But that was, like, 12/13 years ago, and in the interim time I've gone from super fit, to super fat, back to not at all fat, and, well, pretty fit again.  
But I still feel like the least fit in any given situation.  Which I sort of know I'm not.  But my brain still tells me I am.  If that makes any sense?  I've never been fussed when I'm the fattest in any given group, like, it never even crossed my mind most of the time.  But I STILL have a weird complex, where I keep saying that I USED to be really fit - and somehow can't register or retain the fact that I might actually be the fittest I've EVER been, right here and now.  It's a weird thing.  I always doubt myself and my ability - whilst also being super confident in my body's ability to smash anything I ask it to do.  It must be some kind of body dysmorphia, that isn't about size, but fitness? I dunno.  
SO now I have just 132 days until the biggest physical challenge I've ever taken on, I'm training.  Hard.  Most mornings, I'm up and out by 6.30am, Mera's morning walk has become a minimum of 10 miles.  Stewart keeps saying I'll walk her wee legs off, but that wee dog is a machine, and I know she's the best training buddy I could ever wish for.  
So yesterday, she and I joined the Long Distance Walker's Association for a nice 15 mile walk out of Inverness.  I was anxious that I'd struggle to keep pace with these seasoned walkers.  I was hopeful there wouldn't be hills. And I hoped to meet some of the organisers of the 50, or others who have done it previously.
I'm the short arse to the left of centre
What a super day!  The walking pace was a very comfortable speed.  A good bit slower than what I've been hitting on my training walks, so it was a lovely, relaxed pace. There was a hill.  A decent size of a hill, with a pretty long ascent.  But on a very nice track.  I hadn't brought my walking poles, and as others in the group took theirs out, I thought "Oh shit, I'm going to die here".  But no!  Again, the pace was very gentle, and we all just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  With no self imposed pressure to push to my maximum possible speed/effort, I found myself casually chatting to others, all the way up!  Talking!  On a hill climb?! Can't remember that ever happening before!  So I will continue to beast myself on walks, whilst reminding myself that it's not a race, it's never a race, and my fitness levels are actually WAY better than I constantly fear!! Lovely, lovely revelation!!

I met a couple of the committee of the LDWA and feel much more reassured, having chatted about the actual route with them.  Thing that's most bothering me, is that there's a big hill, somewhere about mile 40/45, which we'll be walking in the pitch dark.  But I feel better about it now, and will be able to go recce the route a few times between now and then. 
I'm third from left. Still smiling after the hill haha

Mera was the Golden Child that she always is! She's not that interested in other people or other dogs, so she's never been a problem in any group situation I've put her in (remember we've only had this wee rescue dog for 8 months!), but there's a first time for everything. But nope, just a wee superstar.  Perfect recall off lead, is great at not getting under people's feet, ignores bikes and runners passing by, a happy mix of exploring around the tracks we're on, but her default is walking directly behind my heel.  I've not taught her this, it's her natural choice.  And it's just delightful. She also has no objection to being on lead, when required, which makes her just an absolute dream to be out and about with.  So, once again, my head swelled like a proud parent, with all of the kind words said about her on the walk ♥

All in all, I feel I'm in a great place.  It feels like I've physically turned back the clock.  It's like I never gained all that weight in the first few years of No Books Were Harmed, my body has forgiven me, and is fully embracing being back in the zone! 

Not a bad wee day off!

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