Lisa is a participant in our Run The Year 2019 challenge from the UK who walks to get her miles in! Through walking with her adorable dog, Jess, she raises money for cancer research and stays healthy. Her reflections, struggles, and triumphs are so inspiring and candid. We love hearing about her journey, and we know you will too. Here is her story...
This morning I started to type this piece. Then deleted it all. Then started again. Deleted it. And so it continued. Eventually became bored with my own lack of focus and ‘eureka’…that’s when it came to me. For the first time in many years I do actually have a focus, a goal – and it’s thanks to RTE.
We all have different challenges and different reasons for setting out on this adventure. Nobody I know in the UK has heard of RTE, but being a part of the Facebook group makes me feel included in a huge supportive family and it gives me a real boost to read about everyone’s journey. Let’s not apologize for our speed, or seeming lack of it, or the fact that we’ve been busy and haven’t managed as many miles as someone else. We are all unique and have different strengths and weaknesses. I would not be able to run every day - I would develop too many niggling injuries, but I can walk happily at a decent pace for hours and I’m happy with that. Someone else might be able to fit in a run but might not have the time or desire to walk miles and miles each day. Sure, there are elite athletes who will sprint through this challenge in no time – but they are on their own adventure, too, let’s not forget that. Whilst it’s not a competition, we’re all competing in our own way, that’s what makes this so all-consuming and worthwhile. We all have our own aims and targets, individual goals, obstacles to overcome. We all have a tale to tell. And so here is my own story, honest and open, flaws laid bare…
Ten years ago I was diagnosed and treated for cancer. I’d like to say it’s a distant memory – but the emotional angst still remains and has developed into a certain amount of health anxiety for me. It’s not something I have ever spoken about – until now. Afraid my anxiety would be seen as weakness I hide behind a façade of happiness. Always the chirpy, chatty one, I won’t allow anyone to see the torment I go through so, every day, I paint on a cheery smile and go about my business. And boy is it exhausting! Add to that a congenital heart condition and hypermobile joints that cause daily pain and maybe you’ll understand that sometimes it all gets too much. In recent years I really feel that I’ve drifted a little, losing my own identity and becoming almost invisible.
But signing up for RTE is slowly changing all that. Initially I started walking 4 or 5 miles per day. But suddenly the miles started to increase. 5 became nowhere near enough. I now walk between 7 and 14 miles daily at a pace of around 3 miles per hour. I walk faster, hills don’t faze me anymore. I am becoming leaner and noticeably fitter. I meet lovely people on the way and, to cap it all, I’m raising money for our local cancer hospital, The Christie, where I was treated 10 years ago.
I can’t tell you how much I am loving it. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. A real, genuine smile. The negativity is fading. I live in the West Pennines, in NW England, amidst rolling moors and hills. I can walk for miles and miles and, when I’m in the midst of a long trek, my lovely Jessie by my side, I lose all my fears and anxiety. I become strong. And super happy. It’s the best therapy I could ever wish for.
Of course I want to complete the challenge, but I really don’t want this adventure to end.
Every week I write a report and publish it online – partly to raise awareness and encourage folks to sponsor me, but also because I want to make a permanent record of this year and the memories being made. If anyone is interested it’s www.walkingtheyear2019.wordpress.com
So, thank you RTE. I’m happy to be walking my way to increased health and inner peace. You have given me the nudge I needed and the incentive to get up and out there. It may be more of a marathon (well, 77 of them, actually) than a sprint, but I am getting so much more out of this adventure than I ever believed possible.