Sunday, 29 April 2012

Back out of Retirement!

Realised yesterday morning at 7.30 when down at the NSC, that in exactly 8 weeks time the track would be filling up with people ready for the big day. People nervously chattering to each other asking "what time are you aiming for" or "how far do you plan to go" and generally just providing each other with encouragement. The build up to the walk is all part of enjoyment of the event, whether it be using it as a target to get fit, getting out walking and meeting new people or getting family and friends to sponsor you for a good cause. As I said it hadn't really dawned on me until yesterday how close the Parish Walk now was and Kyley will probably now start to find it unbearable as I continue to talk about it on an even more regular basis.

The week before the excitement really starts to build and it seems like everyone is talking about it and the media coverage starts to increase. At the registration you realise what a massive event it is as the queues stretch way back from the Manx Harriers clubhouse, so it has to be done over 2 nights. So if you are reading this and you haven't event entered yet, you only have 2 weeks left! Looking back at Murray's pre-race blog from last year there were 964 entries on Sunday 1 May and 1756 had entered by the closing date of Sunday 15 May - nothing like leaving it to the last minute. As at today there are 1220 entries, so 256 up on last at the same point. If you are unsure as to whether to enter or not, do it now, otherwise you will regret come it 23rd June when you can only watch the start rather than taking part.

Sad as it sounds, I was looking back on the stats from last year on my Garmin for all the walks I recorded. From 1 January 2011 to 29 April 2011 I walked 493 miles at an average pace of 5.7 miles per hour. This year I have walked 466 miles from 1 January to 29 April at an average pace of 5.6 miles per hour. Whilst I have improved my PBs for 5km, 10km, 20km and 50km this year I seem to be walking less and slower in training! Haven't quite worked that out yet, but in terms of the miles covered I have done more running this year and possibly played more football, so varying the training with different sports hasn't had an adverse effect and has helped improve the overall fitness.

After the Sara Killey last Sunday the training was obviously reduced a little this week, as the body needs time to recover and repair. I met up with Vinny, Michael, Jock and Dave W on Tuesday night and it was a fairly leisurely 7 miles round Douglas and Onchan. Dave Mackey was going to join us but was initially put off the by the rain, so it when it cleared up something else cropped up so he couldn't make it - only joking Dave! I owe Dave an apology any way, as I was due to meet him at 6pm on Thursday for a training session. Unfortunately, I got stuck at work and tried to call and text him about 5.45 to say I wouldn't be there, but he had left his phone at home, so he had to wander round Douglas by himself.

As I said earlier, we met at the NSC on Saturday morning and set off down the quay, along the promenade and out towards Groudle. The pace was nice and steady, with the legs a little heavy after the previous Sunday's exertions and this continued in to Laxey, where we headed down to Old Laxey and passed the Shore Hotel. Not sure if I have mentioned this before but my in-laws own the Shore and also brew the local Bosun Bitter on the same site, so get yourself down there for a pint or two - it wasn't long after 9 so we couldn't stop! After striding up the hill to the Co-op where we had a brief water pit stop, we carried on the climb up Baldhoon and out towards Glen Roy. At this point, Vinny was obviously unhappy with the speed we were walking decided to step it up on the last hill before you join the junction that takes you up to the back road from the Creg-Ny-Baa and Michael quickly followed. I spent the next few minutes hanging on to their tails, whilst they raced to the top. I stupidly thought that we would then take it easy on the downhill section, which must be a couple of miles to where the road joins the top of Whitebridge, but Jock and Michael had other ideas. After sticking with them for about two thirds of the distance Vinny and I eventually lost touch, as we were both in danger of losing contact and the technique was going to pot, so decided to back off. All in all a good walk and about 19 miles in the end.

After saying last month that I was quitting football for the season I was tempted out of semi-retirement, as it was our last game in the Vets league, which was against Ronaldsway at their ground. When we turned up it was blowing an absolute gale and the rain had started, plus it was bitterly cold! Our warm up consisted of going outside for about two minutes, having a quick jog and kicking the ball a couple of times before retiring back to the changing room to warm up. A few stretches later the ref told us was time to come out for kick off and we lost the toss. In the first half we had to play in to the wind and also up the slope, plus the grass was quite long on the pitch and it was extremely bumpy - hardly conducive to a classic game of controlled passing football. The wind was horrendous, so short accurate passing was key and we had a decent first half and should have taken the lead after earning a penalty, but unfortunately it hit the post. We turned around at half time 0-0 and we confident of a good second half with the wind at our backs and the benefit of the slope. After being permanently camped in the Ronaldsway half we took a deserved lead, but instead of kicking on and creating more opportunities, we succumbed to a break away goal and conceded ourselves to go 2-1 down. Despite relentless pressure we just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net and ended up the losers. Mid-table mediocrity again, but we had a laugh and are already looking forward to next season.

Remember - don't forget to get your entry in and if you've already entered you need to get your team entry submitted by the same deadline!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sara Killey Memorial Walk

Just a short post tonight, as I'm putting my feet up and doing very little apart from watching TV and eating & drinking.

The Sara Killey Walk today was held in near perfect conditions - very little wind and not too warm. Though it was good to see the odd bit of sun and some hope that summer might be coming soon!

Firstly, congratulations to Michael George for an excellent walk and a thoroughly deserved win. Mike went out quickly from the start and led all the way to the end. Well done to Dave Walker for a superb walk, holding off the challenge from Vinny Lynch to finish third and also to Michelle Turner - first lady home. As far as I am aware the results haven't been published yet, but there seemed to be a few PBs today. Also, a mention to Ed, my fellow blogger, who I saw towards the end of the walk and he was looking comfortable with the technique still good, which should bode well for the Parish.

As for my walk, I was delighted to finished second (again, behind Michael), but knocked over 11 minutes off last year's time and I was feeling a lot stronger at the end than last year. I said before the race that I didn't think I could get under 5 hours, so to do 4:54:04 for 50km was great.

Gone are the days when these longer walks start off at a nice relaxed pace, where you can have a chat and take a few miles to warm up, as Mike stretched the field from the off. From Peel to Kirk Michael I walked with Dave, Vinny, Peter Kaneen, Jock Waddington and Shaun Dean as we tried to chase Michael down. We got close at Kirk Michael Fire Station but he pulled away again. At Jurby Dave, Jock and I again got within touching distance, but Michael stepped it up once more. I've attached the mile split times from my Garmin below and as you can see from mile 11, the next 6 miles were all 9 minute miles or less and we still couldn't catch him!!!

Between Jurby and the Lhen I pulled away from Dave and whilst I could see Michael all the way to finish I just couldn't get close enough to mount a serious challenge. Whilst I slowed down towards the end, my mile splits didn't tail off that much and I'm pleased with an average of 9.22 minutes per mile.

Finally, a big thanks to the IOM Fire Service for putting on another well supported event and to all the marshalls and other volunteers for giving up their time today and hopefully a decent amount of money was raised for the Fire Fighters Charity.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Need some inspiration?

Whilst everyone has slightly different training regimes (because what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another), your training in terms of total mileage should be coming to a peak over the next 4 to 6 weeks, before tapering before the big day on 23 June. I've said before that for me I have tried to concentrate on the quality of the sessions over the last couple of years, rather than banging out endless miles, but in order to finish (besides a strong mental approach) you do need those miles in your legs pounding the streets.

It can be quite difficult to maintain motivation to go out training at this point, when it is needed most. It is especially true if the weather is poor (which can't be said for this weekend!), but also if you have a lot on at work and trying to maintain a balance with family activities it can be difficult. I have just finished reading a book by Dean Karnazes called Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner and if you are looking for a bit of motivation or inspiration I would wholly recommend it. Basically, he had an epiphany whilst out drinking celebating his 30th birthday - went home and put on an old pair of trainers and just ran through the night. He had done some running at school, but nothing in the following 10 years or so and ended up covering 30 miles but incapacitated himself for weeks afterwards. However, from this he became a reborn athlete and built up from doing 5km and 10km races to marathons and then on to ultramarathons.

Whilst he manages to acheive all these super human feats such as the 4 deserts challenge in the same year and continuously running for 226 miles, impressively he has also been able to hold down a full time job and maintain a happy and stable family life, whilst competing and training all year round. The fact that he needs little sleep and gets up at 4am most days to train, doesn't detract from the feat. If you get the opportunity I would definitely suggest reading the book, as there are a lot of similarities between the endurance events he does and the Parish Walk in terms of preparation, training, nutrition, mental approach and the overall experience. I'm certainly feeling fired up after reading it and also picked up some useful tips.

Back to this week's training - after Monday Morning's walk with a slight hangover, the following day the two Daves and I met at the Bottleneck Car Park and did the Groudle Loop, which after finishing back on the promenade was just under 10 miles. I didn't make circuit training on Wednesday, but still managed to get out for an 8 mile walk around Baldwin on my own, apart from my I-Pod. With training in a group I couldn't remember the last time I went out walking with my I-Pod on. I didn't really look at my Garmin watch, but was surprised at the end at how quickly I had covered the 8 miles, as my mind had been distracted by the Podcast I was listening to. Apart from the first year I finished the Parish Walk, when I needed any distraction possible to take my mind off the pain, I haven't used an I-Pod in the event since and I haven't missed it either.

I missed the usual Thursday training session due to work commitments and was busy on Friday, so it was important to get a decent walk in on Saturday. Vinny, Mike and I met up at 7am at the NSC and set off towards Marine Drive and on the way up to Manx Radio Dave W met us. He can be forgiven for sleeping in, as he was the on-call Doctor in A&E and had been summoned to the hospital in the early hours of the morning. We carried on along Marine Drive all the way to Port Soderick and took a right turn to join the old Castletown Road and continued south joining the Parish Walk route. At this point we walked it in reverse along Oatlands Road and on to the Cleaynagh Road and then straight through the crossroads. On reaching the Garth crossroads we took a right, which takes you down to Crosby, passed the old Marown School, which I attended as child and remember the outside toilets, which use to freeze in the winter! Continuing straight on at Crosby the four of us had a good race up the hill and instead of stopping at the top it carried on for a while longer, neck and neck all the way. I think we were all relieved when eventually Vinny asked if anyone was going to bother slowing down! We then worked our way through Mount Rule out to Abbeylands and back into Douglas, covering just over 18 miles in the end. Not quite as far as previous weeks, but more than sufficient with the Sara Killey Memorial Walk next Sunday.

In the afternoon I popped into work for a bit before heading out to Laxey. My in-laws own the Shore Hotel, so I decided it was a good idea to go out for a pint to watch the Grand National. It is the only time each year when Kyley and I will bet on a horse race and my record is shocking, whilst Kyley usually picks the winner every year. This year was an exception, as whilst my luck was unchanged (with the various donkeys I chose pulling out early on), she only picked the second (by a photo finish) and fourth placed horses and also won on the sweep in the pub! Not only did the horse racing not go my way, but Man City hammered Norwich and Liverpool got through to the FA Cup final.

I had a couple of drinks to commiserate the run of bad luck and ended up leaving my car in Laxey, so ran out to pick it up this morning. Considering the walk yesterday my legs felt ok, apart from jogging up Whitebridge and I got out there in decent time. Now I have finished this blog we are going to go out for a coffee before I watch Man U beat Aston Villa. We have a really good record against Villa, but having said that we also had an impressive record against Wigan - until last Wednesday, so can't take anything for granted. Paul Scholes is back and it is at Old Trafford, so I'm pretty confident. It doesn't say much for the standard of Premiership this year though when the best English midfielder is a 38 year old, who has come out of retirement!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Finally entered and number 1000!

After moaning about last week's lack of training, this was a much better week. On Monday I did my usual 5 mile run in the quickest time yet, so that must be a good sign, followed by a quick walk on Tuesday with Dave Walker. The usual text message was sent out in the afternoon to see who was going out that evening and probably due to the wind and sleet/snow there was only Dave and I stupid enough to go out. The weather was in stark contrast to the warm sun the previous Tuesday, so to keep the cold at bay we set off at a very rapid pace around the Kewaigue loop. At the end of the walk we had averaged about 9.45 per mile, which was good considering the strong winds.

Wednesday was circuit training with Liz Corran at the NSC, with too many squat related exercises which again left me half-crippled by the end of it! On Thursday, Vinny, Dave Mackey and I met at the car park by the Sea Terminal and we headed out to the Liverpool Arms via Onchan and back through Groudle and along the prom, which was just over 10 miles. During the walk I had mentioned to Dave and Vinny that I was going to enter the Parish at some point over the next couple of days, so when I got home and read that the 1000th entry was a free one I thought "I'll have some of that". On checking the website that evening there were 998 entries so I decided to come back later, but it slipped my mind until the following morning about 9am. When I turned the computer on there were 999 entries, so I jumped in and quickly entered, so I reckon I was number 1000.

Friday was a rest day, followed by a 7am start at the NSC to do the Parish route to Rushen. Dave Walker arrived a bit the worse for wear after having a few drinks after the 10km run the previous evening, which had Ron Hill as the guest of honour. As I've said on an earlier blog Dave is definitely one to watch as he is a lot fitter than in previous years and this was backed up by him running a PB in around 39 minutes. I mentioned to my fellow walkers that morning that I entered the Parish the previous day and thought I might have been number 1000, but instead of a 'well-done' all I got was shouts of 'you tight-arse'! In my defence I did say to Dave a few weeks ago that it would be good to be the 1000th person to enter.

After a steady start out to Marown we passed the school and sure enough the race to the top of the hill at the Braaid crossroads started. We have a number of routes that we alternate between on Saturday mornings and without any mention of it beforehand, there are certain places where the pace always picks up and for the next mile or so we hammer it. This is the benefit of training in a group as you all push yourself that little bit harder and I know I wouldn't have progressed had I not started going out with people who were faster than me. Marie had left her car at Santon the previous evening, as she had only planned to do a 10 mile session, so she peeled off at this point and the rest of us headed on to Ballasalla where we stopped for fluid.

At Malew Church Dave M and Vinny left, as they had to get back into Douglas, so Dave W and I continued towards Rushen at a steady but reasonably comfortable speed. Just coming out of Colby we realised we didn't have much time to get into Port Erin to catch the bus, so we had to run the last mile or two. Literally as soon as we got on the bus in Port Erin it left, so the run was worth it! When I took up walking in January 2007 and was preparing for the Parish Walk that year, I did my first long training walk on Good Friday, which was the same section of the Parish to Rushen. My trainers were battered old ones, not suitable for walking in, I didn't have a clue about the right sportswear and how to avoid chaffing and nipple rub. Needless to say I ended up with massive blisters on both heels, extremely chaffed bits and with red spots on my t-shirt, so it made me chuckle reading and looking at the photo on the latest blog posted by Ed. I can remember going round to my brother's house for a BBQ later that day and hardly being able to walk, through a combination of my various injuries and feeling extremely stiff, so some useful advice to heed from Ed.

On Sunday, after devouring a large Easter egg, I forced myself to go out for a run to try and counteract the effects of my greed, plus Kyley and I were off to the pub later with Ronnie and Karen for the quiz, where I planned to have a drink or two. The Woodbourne was packed when we arrived about 7.30 and I had a chat with John Cannell at the bar whilst waiting to get served. I'm sure he only thinks I turn up for the pub quiz when the prize pot for the raffle is at it's upper limit, as last night it was £1100! Anyway, none of our team won, but we had a good night and Ronnie introduced me to one of the guest ales, which I think is called 'a taste of spring' and is green. A few of those sorted me out and I agreed to meet a few of the guys for a walk at 9 this morning. Jock was also in the pub and I encouraged him to come along, but he obviously had more sense and decided to stay in bed. After quite a late one it wasn't pleasant getting up this morning, but after Dave W's initial enthusiastic start where he teared off in to the distance, it wasn't too quick and ideal for me in my delicate state and we ended up doing about 10 miles. Definitely glad I went out, even if it rained most of the way!

Finally, a reminder to get your entry in by Monday 16th April for the Sara Killey Memorial 50km Walk, which is on the following Sunday. This is an excellent training opportunity for the Parish so don't miss it. I was really surprised and delighted to finish second last year to Michael George in a time of 5:05. It was a really quick race and after a rapid first 20km, we were still just under 4 hours at the 40km mark. It was at this point I got my first taste of what it is like to lead a race by yourself. After walking with Jock and Vinny for the first two thirds, Jock pulled out as planned and Vinny stopped shortly afterwards, just before Bride, as he had a painful hip. This left me out front on my own and to be honest I didn't feel comfortable at all to start with. Just after Bride Michael caught me up and flew past me and that was the last I thought I would see of him. However, on reaching Andreas village I came across him as he was retching at the side of road, as I think a gel hadn't agreed with him, so I was in the lead again, even if only for a short while! Michael passed me on the way to Sulby Bridge and whilst I could see him most of the way to the finish I had run out of steam, whilst he appeared to be really strong. I think getting under 5 hour mark this year is out of reach, so I will be happy if I beat last year's time, but my money is on Michael to win again.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Party Time

A fairly poor week on the training front. Went for a 5 mile run on Monday evening round Douglas and there were a lot of other runners and walkers about, obviously taking advantage of the lighter evenings following the clocks going forward.

As mentioned on last week's Blog I went to Guernsey on Tuesday and Wednesday for work and stayed in a hotel called the Old Government House and I managed to pay one visit to the Gym, which had an impressive range of equipment. Having said that I only used the rowing machine, X-trainer and treadmill, but had a decent workout. Managed to get out for a brief wander around St Peter Port. Some of the guys I go walking with have been across to Guernsey for the annual Church to Church Walk, which starts in St Peter Port. They had said that the walk is fairly straightforward apart from the big hill at the start, which was described as Crellin's Hill but quite a bit longer. Having strolled up it at a very leisurely pace, I wouldn't fancy racing up it, straight from the off!

Unfortunately, with being away I missed the Walk-Talk on Tuesday and by all accounts it was well attended and a very informative event. Also, with being out of the office, work built up in my absence, so training took a back seat on Thursday evening and I was busy on Friday, so another rest day. All the more reason for a decent walk on Saturday morning.

Mike, Vinny, the two Dave's and I met up at 7.30 at the NSC with the plan to do two loops of Baldwin. We walked from West Baldwin to East Baldwin first, carrying on to the Strang Crossroads where we stopped at the shop for water. I had seen the weather forecast on the BBC the day before and there was rain over the Isle of Man, so I put on my 'storm-proof' jacket (bright orange by the way) and a thick base layer (to avoid being cold and wet). I mocked Vinny when he turned up with his sunglasses, but he had the last laugh there was glorious sunshine most of the morning and I was again overheating from too many layers!

After stocking up on fluid we re-traced our steps doing the same route in reverse. From Injebreck Reservoir back to the NSC Mike set a very high pace and on the way back towards the Strang Crossroads neither Vinny nor I could keep in touch with him, so we backed off a little and decided to carry on through Quarterbridge and down to the Prom. On the way there Vinny said he was going to have a 'paddle' in the sea to help the legs through recreating the effects of an ice bath. Reluctantly I decided I would give it a go and you only imagine my disappointment when we arrived to find a low tide!

When I arrived home it certainly felt like it had been a hard walk and I decided to have a cold bath instead but I only lasted a short period of time. Assuming you can last longer than I could, the theory/benefits are:

  • Constricted blood vessels, which flushes out waste products such as lactic acid out of the affected tissues
  • Decreases metabolic activity and slows down physiological processes
  • Reduces swelling and tissue breakdown
Then, with re-warming, the increased blood flow speeds circulation, and in turn improves the healing process. So if you can handle the cold it is well worth it after a long walk.

Unfortunately on Saturday, my Garmin had a low battery ( I must have left it on the previous time I used it), so I'm not sure how far we walked or the mile splits in the second half of the session, as they certainly felt very quick. Richard Wild left a comment on my last Blog asking about the Garmin data for the longer walks I have done, so next Sunday I will post Saturday's splits Richard.

Saturday afternoon was spent tidying and preparing for a party at our house, which was a belated one for my 40th birthday.  I had tried to let it pass by without any fuss, but Kyley convinced me that a little get-together in fancy dress would be a good idea, with the theme being 'R'. The picture below is me in my E-Bay purchased Cockroach (Roach) outfit, with Roland Rat, which certainly kept me warm all evening. There were some cracking outfits on show, such as a Roman Gladiator, Robin Hood, Robin (from Batman and Robin), a Rabbi and a couple of Rubik's cubes, but Kyley got a surprise when she answered the door to some of my fellow walkers and their wives dressed in walking attire sporting masks with my face on them! We ended up having a really good evening, too much to drink and eat, with a corner of my kitchen/dining room being turned into a dance floor. As you have probably gathered there was no training done today, so next week I am really going to have to make up for it!!!