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!