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I’ve walked 78.5 miles since I last blogged, averaging just shy of 10 miles a day. I am still carrying around my medical notes for ballast and for variety, some days I have my entire CD collection. I have no idea how much the rucksack weighs but I know I will not be carrying that weight around the coast of Britain!! Here are some pics of the walks.

So much has happened since last posting and I could be here all night trying to recall everything but with very tired eyelids I will keep it brief.

Berghaus have kindly supplied me with some extraordinarily good outdoor clothing, so much so, I actually feel like an adventurer just walking around the house in the gear. I will post pictures soon.

I have two fundraisers confirmed – Day 2 at the Dog and Partridge, Orsett, Essex 7.30pm and The “Tom Peppers” pub in Clacton have agreed to host a fundraising night too on Day 8 (8th). Both will be in the form of a pub quiz with a mixture of coastal and heart related questions. Please pop along if you are nearby.

I have nearly packed away my life in boxes and got most of the equipment/clothing I will need for a year’s walk. It still doesn’t seem real that I start next Wednesday and it also doesn’t seem real saying goodbye to people for what might be a year. I have been so focused on the details of the first few weeks that it hasn’t really crossed my mind that I am going away for a year – it feels more like a little mini break!

I am sure once everything is packed away and it is just me and my rucksack, it might start feeling real.

If you use twitter, please follow me on http://www.twitter.com/kieransandwell There will be random pics and vlogs as I walk along.

Thank you to all the people who have offered help and also those who have sponsored me via my justgiving page here. It gives me such a boost each time I see the total move.

Cheers
Kieran xx

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Back walking hurrah!

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Is it really a week since I last posted?
This is a short blog just to say thank you for all the messages of support I have received after posting details of my walk in the various Facebook groups I belong.
Papworth Transplant Social & Support Group
Sommerville foundation
Mustard or Senning survivors

These are great groups to be part of and many members have said they would meet me en route and meeting up with them may well be one of the highlights of the walk. :mrgreen:

Today I managed a 7 mile walk along the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. Some of it was frozen but on a completely clear day, some of the reflections in the water were truly spectacular.

I am very excited to announce that Berghaus have agreed to sponsor my kit and I should be receiving some high quality walking gear from them very shortly. Maybe, I will feel more like an real adventurer in professional clothing? I am over the moon 🙂 Pics soon….

My plan now is to walk every day of January increasing the mileage and weight of the rucksack and avoiding germs !!!

Kieran xx

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3 weeks? No Way!

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So three weeks today, I will be setting off on my 5000 mile walk. It’s hard for me to think how I will be feeling on that day as I have just had three weeks with two separate bouts of cold/coughy stuff.

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I keep looking back at the post where I was carrying my medical notes 16 miles early in December and wondering how strong and confident I would be feeling if I hadn’t caught these bugs. This week was supposed to be a full week of 15 mile walks with a heavy backpack. I was then going to ease off until start day with 10 miles walks and the odd longer one at weekends. My actual training this week has included scoffing two packs of Soothers, numerous naps and to keep morale up – singing to the cat as Barry White. (My morale, not the cat’s..I’m sure his morale plummeted)

Of course, this personal plan went out the window at Christmas with bug number one and although I managed 10 mile and 11 mile consecutive walks last week, there has been more action on my bed than in my walking boots since then. I was just about to remove that last sentence but I’ve decided to leave it in for all those “carry on” film fans and those with smutty minds.

So what is the plan from now till the 1st February? I have no idea. My muscle memory will be sufficient to stand the first few days and mentally I will be fine for the walk so I guess I will be trying to do a few longs walks and some regular short walks but mostly trying to stay healthy.

I am extremely confident that I can cope with the mental side of this walk. I have pictured many, many scenarios in my head over the years and the London Marathon training has helped me get use to the level of pain my body can take and what tricks to play with my mind when fatigue sets in. I am, like anyone living with a lifelong illness, very aware that plans can change in the blink of an eye, or in my case a beat of a heart and trying to remain relaxed about getting ill, though sometimes its very difficult to control.

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One thing is certain though, every time, I pick up my rucksack I feel like a dog that has seen its owner reach for the lead. If I had a tail, it will be wagging vigorously. I wish humans had tails. I once wrote a short story about a disco that only allowed entrance to humans with tails…..maybe when I am on my own in NW Scotland, I will come back to my tail tales.

Kieran xx

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The chimp and I

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Just when I thought the germs had gone, my strength was back and the walking shoes were happy again, along comes another cold to set me back. I have never had a period like this since transplant and it is immensely frustrating. My new walking shoes are staring at me, tempting me to carry on regardless but the sensible side of my brain (not my chimp) is telling me to rest and recover.

It has given me some time to get some accommodation sorted and to make a start on some of the fundraising events. For those in South Essex, I have arranged a fundraising night at the Dog & Partridge on the A128 on the 2nd February 2017 @ 7.30pm.

I do need help securing accommodation so please rack your brains and think of anyone you may know who lives near the coastline of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. I am happy to couchsurf or even sleep on a floor so long as I get a roof over my head and an interesting person to meet and chat to.

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So who is this chimp I mentioned earlier? I have lived with anxiety and depression all of my life. I have had long dark periods of my life where depression really took hold of me. Depression, to me, is an illness just like the cough and cold I am currently cursing.

The chimp comes from a brilliant book I read three years ago called “The Chimp Paradox” by Dr Steve Peters. He is a sports psychologist who has helped Victoria Pendleton, Chris Hoy and our immensely successful British cycling team. He has also worked with the snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan of recent years and helped him win three more world championships. His concept is simple and I bought into the ideas immediately.

chimp-picEssentially we have two parts of our brain, ourselves and a chimp. A squawking chimp that is more powerful than us. Our chimp can overpower us anytime and it does this to protect us from harm. However, we lose who we really are and how we want to act when the chimp takes over so we need to try to manage it and recognised when it is taking over.

An example is this. You are driving in the morning and a car pulls out in front of you. You toot, you swear, your drive closely and scream at the idiot. You arrive in work in a complete state, slam around and are short with co-workers. You may even be rude to your boss. Eventually, as the morning carries on you lose the anger and aggression and stop biting at people. Later that evening you are recalling the events of earlier in the morning to a friend, telling them how you were rude to everyone. Your friend says “Why did you let it get to you? It was just a selfish driver. There are plenty of them” and you reply “I don’t know why it annoyed me so much. The driver really wound me up and I couldn’t let it go”

What happened in that example is that the chimp overpowered you and it did so to protect you. Eventually the chimp went back to sleep and the real you came to the surface once more.

I used to hear voices of self-doubt all the time. “You’re such an idiot Kieran” or “You’re never going to be able to do that” or “You’re an ugly git” or “You look hideous with that beer gut” We all have these thoughts but I am now able to recognise when they are happening and I question whether this is me or the chimp talking. More often than not, it’s the chimp talking.

In the driver example, when the person got to work and was slamming around if they had asked themselves “is this the chimp talking?” they would have recognised that this was not how they want to be perceived by others and not how they want to act. When they realised this, they could have put the chimp to sleep a lot quicker.

By being able to take control of negative thoughts has enabled me to stay a lot more level headed for longer periods of time. When depression passes over me (and it will always continue to do so) I can now recognise the spiral of unhelpful comments in my head and work at putting my chimp to bed.

This method helps sportsmen and women achieve more by getting rid of all the negative comments such as “am I good enough for a gold medal?” and keeping them focused on what exactly they’re are supposed to be doing. We all are bombarded, night and day with self-doubt and distractions so for me, being able to say to myself ‘is this me or is this my chimp?’ seems to keep me more positive nowadays.

So I will be walking a chimp around the coast of Britain and if I am heard screaming “CHIMP, be quiet” on a beach somewhere, you’ll know I am battling. I am aware there are going to be many, many battles ahead and my chimp is already questioning the whole trip but I know that deep down this is something I want to achieve and chimp will be have to be managed on a daily if not hourly basis.

“Round Britain with a Chimp” – it’s got a ring to it hasn’t it? 

Kieran xx

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Beardy McBeardface

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All long distance walkers have beards. I want mine to look like Forrest Gump after 5000 miles. As I am training for my walk now, I thought I would train my beard. Should I shave the night before I leave? Is it cheating to have a beard before growing a beard whilst long distance walking? Too many things to think about…

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Father Christmas brought me a pretty hefty cough and cold for me to play with and this put back my training plan by a week which fingers crossed, shouldn’t really have an impact. Being on immune-suppressants usually means that a cold can last weeks, if not months. The other downside for me is that with lingering colds come labyrinthitus which make me very dizzy and not very good at balancing. Not a good side effect to have when setting off coast walking. But, I seem to have shaken the worst of this unexpected Christmas present enough to pop down my local to see the new year in.

By myself at the bar after all the madness had calmed down, it suddenly struck me of the enormity of the task ahead this year. Fear of failure surged. It’s funny how changing “next year” to “this year” can change your focus. I got out my phone and looked at my website but a memory popped into my head.

When I was 18, I quit my nice insurance job in London, bought a rucksack, a book on Europe and a monthly eurotrain pass. There was no plan. My mum was so worried but within a few weeks of the idea, I was boarding the ferry to Calais with no plan and only a couple of hundred pounds. I reached Marseille. Whooop! I was a traveller. I tried ringing home to let my mum know that I was ok but I couldn’t use the French pay phones. A man asked if I needed any help and promptly took most of my money. I was stuck on the steps of Marseille station with virtually no money and just my europass. I slept rough that night and made my way home the next day. My magnificent tour of Europe lasted 3 days. We learn best by from our own mistakes.

Once I had loaded up the website and looked at the map I’d made. I then looked at the spreadsheet and saw how meticulous I had been when planning the route two months ago. The fear subsided. I remembered all the lessons learnt from that 3 day trip. The most important being never speak to a Frenchman unless it is absolutely necessary. 🙂

So only one month to go until the off! I still have so much to do. I have training to do, I have to pack and store my belongings (the BHF shop in Hemel is doing quite well from my possessions), post redirection, change of addresses, press interviews, articles to write for magazines, looking for accommodation for end Feb/March, equipment search, cut my toenails…oh I could go on.

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Happy New Year Everyone

Kieran xx

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