Although there were times in the mountains these past 2 weeks where I wished the adventure would end, so I could give my limbs a rest, and my heart some time out. I would never in a million years have really wanted it to end.
Many a tear has been shed in the last 48 hours. And for the wrong reasons – not those of jubilation, but those of feeling at a loss as to how my body suddenly failed to cope.
All the things I worried about before leaving for the Pyrennees seem but silly trifles – would I be able to keep going? would my ITB survive the endless miles? Would I get bored? Would rats crawl over my face at night as we slept in bivvy bags under the stars? Would a bear chase me down a mountain side wanting to eat my last cheese sandwich? etc….
Nothing could prepare me for what really happened.
Firstly the weather has been pretty horrendous at times – epic thunderstorms have meant 2 terrifying descents off the tops of mountains. One storm the lightening was striking literally within yards of us. I was terrified. Honestly thought that those might be the last few moments of my life. Either being struck, or slithering off the side of the mountain as I dashed too quickly to escape the next lightening bolt.
Anyway on with the story – on one of these wet days I managed to slip, and gauge rather a deep hole into the top of my shin, just below the knee (having only a kilometre earlier smashed the same shin already on another rock)
Being me I pretended all was ok, and with blood pouring down my leg, escaping from a makeshift plaster, we slithered down a very hard 13km descent – where at times, we were clinging on to only the smallest of rocks and dangling for a few seconds whilst trying to find a foothold. I am only too glad we couldn’t see more than 10m in front of us, and my knee was in such pain – otherwise I would most likely have freaked out!
We finally reached the bottom about 3 hours later, and continued another 20km to where we stopped early. Bandaged the knee again and assessed the damage – permanent scar but should be ok otherwise…. Next day another thunderstorm and early finish, and bandaging knee again as still leaking.
Then things started to look up, as the weather improved and I was no longer having to pop ibuprofen to continue. However, I knew I had been over compensating with my right leg – taking all the weight that my injured left leg couldn’t….
For 4 days though this didn’t seem to be a problem. Then twang…. Heel of my right leg started to feel aggravated…. Thought nothing of it. A bit of rubbing against my shoe, surely it will get better in a few hours. And seemingly it did – beautiful sunshine, stunning views distracted me!
Splendid night time bivvy spot over looking a town, soft ground, good nights sleep, 6km rattled off first thing in the morning! Brilliant. On target for 21 days to do all 810km….. Possibly even quicker, as the days will start to get easier soon….
Stopped in the next town, to top up food supplies as no shops for 2 days…. And put my ruck sack back on. I can hardly move. Right heel is in agony. Redness is spreading. And I can feel a tendon rippling under the touch.
Quick trip to the hospital, bandage… 100 pounds worse off. But surely worth it! Strong tablets prescribed, and we agree a half days rest and stay in Encamps and start early the next day. Perfect!
Eating pizza that evening, and I am sweating uncontrollably. Feeling most peculiar. Put it down to 35 degree heat in the town, and general fatigue.
Go to bed.
1.15am wake up, stomach cramping really badly, sweating, nauseus….. Run to the bathroom. [omitted some details – apparently they were to much for some of readers!!!].
I faint and come to in a pool of sick, having crashed my head against a solid shower cubicle.
These bouts continues all night, and the bruise on my face and leg from where I fell have grown [I looked like I had been beaten and then pulled through a hedge backwards!]! I managed to contract a norovirus from the hospital. Great! At least the NHS is free…. Most expensive virus ever….
Morning comes, and we have to make a decision…..
The hardest yet. I wouldn’t be able to continue for a good few days. Was way to weak now. And achilles still hurting.
So knowing our time was limited, I told Dad to continue and I would meet him in a few days in La Jonquera. Where we could continue together for the last few sections.
Putting on a brave face I suggested going to Barcelona would distract me from the pain of having to miss a few sections. But it has been horrible! My head is not in the right space, and there are too many people. I miss the mountains.
As I said the hardest decision ever, and one I will probably regret for a long time. And continue shedding tears over.
I was so amazed before by what my body and mind had managed to achieve and the strength and resilience that I had found from somewhere deep within, that this set back really knocked me for 6. I am finding it difficult to reconcile in my mind.
Which brings me back to one of the reasons why I set off on this trip in the first place. To remember my friend Al who took his life a few years ago, and to try and support MIND in some way.
No one should feel so alone, and unable to deal with life. It is so precious, and even when it seems to be so shit, there is always something worth living for. And some excitement to inspire one.
Barcelona may not have been the answer to what I was looking for to distract me temporarily, but I was still able to find beauty in its architecture.
I am looking forward to leaving today, heading to Figueres where I will be one stop closer to La Jonquera, and hopefully able to continue running the last few days.
Thank you for reading – this has been hard to write