I think my broken leg rejoined the human race today. A bracing winter morning in Sydney. While most of Sydney slumbered, I carefully weighed my pack. Exactly 17kgs. This would be my heaviest carry yet, but we have to carry 17kg on the Jatbula track so I’ll have to do it sometime. Still dark at 6.20am when I threw my pack and trekking pole in the back of the cab. Looking over to Queenscliff, the ocean was dead calm with a cold SW blowing on it. A perfect swimming morning. I was nervous in the cab as I thought about the day. Could I carry 17kgs from Balmoral to Manly then up to North Head and back to Manly? About 17kms carrying 17kgs – which was the plan for the day. I have a great fear of letting everyone down and holding them back. Anyway today would answer a lot of questions. After a bracing swim – water getting colder – about 16ºc – and breakfast in the courtyard, we assembled at the top of the stairs and headed off at 8.40am sharp – a well prepared little group – Denise Elder, Jan Davies, Ron Crause, Barry and Adriana Feyder. I love doing these training walks with company as I’ve done so many on my own. I immediately felt the extra weight in the pack. Going up some of the steep pitches coming off Balmoral I slowed to a crawl and was soon left behind the main group. Those dreadful words sprang into my mind, “Maybe I can’t do this?” I was only plodding but made it up to Parrawi Rd were we picked up Bob Johnson who thought we were going so slowly he may not get home to watch the rugby that night. The downhill leg to the Spit Bridge proved a respite and I started to feel a bit better. I was hanging out for a break at Clontarf park and was pleased to take the pack off there. I staggered like a drunken sailor as I walked around, a sure sign that my body was adjusting to the unaccustomed weight. My Achilles was not that sore and my broken leg was fine but my right foot felt strange as all the muscles were obviously underdone.
We headed off after a 15 min break and then something strange happened. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I started to stride out. Where previously Denise or Adriana had to stay back and keep me company, I manged to surge a bit the closer we got to Manly. By the time we were walking down the Corso I was warmed up and felt no trouble keeping up. Nothing hurt expect I was starting to feel a twinge in my left hamstring. I think this is caused by an understandable anomaly that recovering patients subconsciously protect their damaged leg. We step up with our undamaged leg supporting our weight on it. Result : the good leg has to work twice as hard and gets fatigued.
Everyone was getting tired by the time we pulled up in front of Manly Surf club for a welcome break. Fatigue setting in. Barry was having trouble with a hip flexor tendon and had to dump a fair bit of the weight out of his pack. I wasn’t feeling too bad but my left hamstring was starting to ache, not badly but I could feel it. We set off past Shelly Beach and wound around North Head and I nursed my hamstring the whole way, but overall felt pretty good. The weight wasn’t bothering me. My right leg felt fine except for an occasional pain in the muscles around my foot. We arrived back at Manly wharf at 2 o’clock and headed in for a beer at the Wharf Hotel. We had walked almost continuously from 8:42am to 2pm – 6 h 20 mins. I broke one of my rehabilitation rules and drink ½ of Denise’s beer. First one this year. It was nice and cold and she had sweetened it with some lime juice. I think it pays to break your resolutions every now and then. I’m sure one beer is not going to retard my recovery. I fully intended to walk home from the hotel but I was really stiff and tired after we finished lunch and so I staggered over to the cab rank and was chauffeured in style. I then did another thing I hadn’t done for awhile – I had a hot bath. God it was good, however all resolution then evaporated and I lay down for a quick nap at 4 PM but didnt wake up until 6pm when it was getting dark. Still, it was worth it. When I checked the distance for the day, it was 27,996 steps or 18 km. A physiotherapist would look at that and say I asked my calf and quadriceps muscles to “fire” 27,996 times and I did it without any obvious ill effects. Tomorrow may be another day but I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Jatbula Track – here I come. Yahoo! Baby boomers are immortal.