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.