Happy Christmas to everyone and I hope Santa brought you what you wished for. Sorry for the amount of time that has elapsed since my last blog and a number of people have told me to get my arse into gear and post a new one.
Went out for a training walk with Dave M, Jock and Vinny last Thursday. Instead of doing laps around the NSC we decided to do a loop up to Kewaigue, down to the quay in Douglas and back along Peel Road. Not very far, but what started out as a gentle stroll soon turned into something a bit quicker and more competitive when Vinny cranked up the pace at the front and then Jock stepped it up a bit more. At the end it felt like a decent session so I didn't feel too guilty about having a few beers at the pub quiz at the Cat With No Tail. Kyley and I went up there with Ronnie and Karen Kelly and as well as being a good laugh we were also tempted by the first prize of £900 for the bingo. Unfortunately, we didn't win but by the end of the night Ronnie had agreed to do both the Peel Dip and the St John's Fell Race on New Years Day. I never committed to anything, but will happily offer words of encouragement as a spectator!
Spent Christmas Day lunch at my Mum and Dads, along with my brothers and their families and then we moved on to Kyley's family for the evening, with me driving on Christmas Day for the first time in years, as I had the SCS Relay on Boxing Day to look forward to. The lack of alcohol during the day was compensated by the amount of food I ate!
Woke up feeling decidedly dodgy on Boxing Day and was worried that I was starting to come down with the sickness bug that had been doing the rounds. I was quite concerned that I wouldn't be able to run and if I did that I would let the team (Parish the Thought) down. I got a bit of comfort when I got to Ballanette and spoke to two of my team mates, Vinny and Dave, who were also a bit ropey and I put it down to general excess over Christmas. The weather on the day was mild, no rain and the wind was really starting to strengthen, but better than last year!
As I arrived the first member of our team, Matt Haddock, was just about to finish and had done an excellent first leg and had maintained our position in the field. He didn't even seem too tired at the end! Dave was off next and despite looking angry and saying he had done a s**t run when he crossed the line, he had actually improved on last year and closed the gap on the three teams ahead of us. Vinny, the old man of the team, ran the third leg and put in a really impressive effort passing all the competitors in front of him and handed over the dibber to me for the final leg, with a sizeable lead. No pressure then! The pressure was cranked up a bit more when less than half a mile into the first lap I passed Steve Partington, who was marshalling and he shouted words of encouragement, along with "you've got this in the bag".
I have to say I hated every minute of the first couple of miles, as I went off too quickly, expended too much energy early on and struggled to get into a rhythm. By the time I hit the long climb for the first time I was really struggling, gasping for breath and thinking about how I would explain to my team mates my decision to retire. I expected the hill to be fairly sheltered, but running up the steepest part with the wind howling in my face wasn't much fun. After a short recovery I started feeling a little better and felt more comfortable as I started my second lap of the course and Dave told me I had a 3 minute lead. A reasonable gap, but nowhere near sufficient if it was one of the top runners chasing me. Unfortunately, as I had gone off too quickly to start with I couldn't maintain my pace and walked the whole way up the steep hill the second time around, looking behind to see where the nearest person was. When I was less than a mile from the finish I looked back again and couldn't see anyone, so barring disaster I knew we would win. The feeling when I crossed the line was one of relief more than anything - that it was all over. I certainly felt the extra pounds I had put on over Christmas, as I dragged myself round.
On reflection I'm really glad I took part, rather than spending the morning lying in bed or something equally lazy. It was a great event and a big thank you to the organisers, the marshals, all the competitors and the sponsor SCS. One final thanks to my team mates who set up the win and to celebrate we all went for a couple of pints in the afternoon to watch the football. I left early, as I had my family coming round in the evening, but it looked like the guys were settling in for the duration.
It was New Years Day 5 years ago when I decided I needed to change my lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise. So my next blog will probably be News Years Day or shortly after, when I will write about what motivated me to do the Parish Walk for the first time.