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Guest blog: Ellen’s tips for Moonwalk Happiness

Written by Fiona May 23 2011

It really isn’t very long now until the evening of June 11 that Jo and I will get dropped off at Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park in our decorated bras ready to walk through the night for the Edinburgh Moonwalk. As pretty much anyone would have predicted I haven’t done enough training and will have to resort to plan B: gritting my teeth and plodding on.

I’ve done the Moonwalk three times before and twice managed to train well and once employed plan B. It hurt a lot more the third time, but I still managed it.

This time I have done a bit of walking and lots of mental rehearsal (all the top sports folk do this, apparently), so it might not be too bad. And there’s still three weeks to go…

Anyhow, Jo had a few questions about what to expect, so I thought I share what I learned from doing previous Moonwalks over the years. Clearly this is my experience and I don’t suggest that I know better than the wise ladies of Walk The Walk.

Don’t leave decorating your bra til the last minute and don’t forget you’ll have to wear it for quite a long time. If you fling something together at the last minute, when you get there and see all the amazing efforts, you’ll wish you tried harder. Plus, with a bit of thought and some dangly bits a multitude of sins can be covered. Decorations have to last all night – a moulting and tatty bra does not make for a glamorous finish photo.

Don’t forget your tissue paper. And just accept you’ll probably need to queue for a pee. You’re not running a marathon, though, so it isn’t necessary to drink gallons of water before you start. Listen to your thirst.

Cereal bars do not get more tempting as a night goes on. We had so many with us on one Moonwalk that I haven’t been able to look one in the face properly since. Other snacks are preferable – chocolate, jelly beans, Percy Pigs, bags of nuts and sandwiches (if you’ve got a capacious bum bag).

Don’t stop. Don’t sit down for a rest, it’s fatal. Just keep going one step at a time. One more step is always possible.

Figure out how you’re going to organise your fleece/waterproof combo. There are instructions on the Walk The Walk site, but, frankly, Ikea would be proud of them so I reckon it’s worth a dry run at home. A big safety pin, hair clip or rubber band might come in handy to make sure that your tied sleeves don’t slither undone as you walk.

Look forward to dawn. The hardest bit for me was about 2am – it’s dark, cool and every fibre of your being is saying: “What the bloody hell do you think you are doing woman? Go home to bed at once.” However, the sun comes up very early and, with it, the will to go on. It does something to your brain chemistry that really, really helps and, other years in Edinburgh, you watch it come up over the Firth of Forth which is lovely.

Play games. There’s a slightly unhinged feeling about being so tired and out of the ordinary. It’s a great time to revisit those childhood games – 20 questions, ‘what am I?’, alphabet games etc. If you meet Fionaoutdoors, do ask her for her legendary eel impersonation first witnessed during one of those games.

Sing songs. Equally, a rousing chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers or One Hundred and Ten Green Bottles can get you through a difficult hour or so.

It really isn’t a race. Ignore what the keen beans do at the start, the only person you are competing with is yourself. A steady plod will serve you well.

Caffeine may be the key. In two of the three Moonwalks, a spirit (and foot) lifting moment came with the gift of a cup of coffee exactly when it was needed. I think this really helps. I haven’t figured out exactly how I can organise this yet, but I’m working on it.

Talk the talk. The long conversations are part of the joy. You hardly ever get the chance to have a proper long, long chat with someone who you enjoy talking to. I don’t know my walking companion Jo all that well and I’m really looking forward to getting to know her better.

Be inspired and don’t whinge. Look around you and you’ll see cancer survivors and those who are doing it for someone they have lost. The whole point of the exercise is to raise money and awareness for cancer. You’re bloody lucky to be able and fit enough to be enjoy taking part in a Moonwalk, just get on with it.

Don’t be shy about asking for cash. So sponsor me now, what are you waiting for?

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