Monday, June 28, 2010

My first finish of the Parish at my second attempt and I was so pleased that the training paid off!

Firstly, congratulations to Jock on a hatrick of wins and to everyone else who either finished or achieved their goals. Commiserations to anybody who didn't quite reach their aims but (just like me last year), there is always next year.

Now I do need to say a few thank you's and this list is by no means exhaustive and apologies in advance to any one that I miss out (I will try not to make it too much like an oscar speech). For all the race walking advice and encouragement from Manx harriers - Alan Callow, Bridget Kaneen, Liz Corran, Steve Partington and my postman and 2 times Parish Walk winner Graham Young. For all the training tips from numerous walkers including the top 4 finishers this year, my team mates and many others in the race. On behalf of every participant, to the organisers and army of helpers that put in a massive effort working tirelessly behind the scenes. (I'm starting to well up now). To Bernie Ball and Keith Wilkinson who, throughout the last year, have never once missed an opportunity to take the p*** out of me for stopping at Jurby last year - motivation enough in itself to keep going. To Sara for her cross training advice. To Murray for the fantastic coverage of the Parish Walk and Manx athletics in general and for letting me loose on the P.W. website and to my fellow bloggers Angie and Dudley. To Kerry 'Have you never heard of Dioralyte' Mackey for last minute dietry advice. To everyone over the past 6 months who has given me encouragement and chatted with me about the blog and the walk.

And of course the biggest thanks of all goes to my family. Training for an event like the Parish takes up an awful lot of time not just on the day or a few days before but for me effectively 18 months and during that time, I have had fantastic support from all my family, never better than on the day itself with constant support and encouragement. My finish really was a team effort.

For me, the walk went better than expected! Having never walked beyond about 45 miles, it really was unknown territory. I set off at a reasonably fast pace and was surprised in the early and mid stages how I was maintaining my pace and feeling fresh. It wasn't until I reached Lezayre that I really hit any trouble but at that point, I slowed right down and began to hit problems. However, despite feeling exhausted and with pain in my feet, legs and back, there was not one pain bad enough to make me stop and I knew in my mind that I was going to finish - I'm a bit of a stubborn bugger at times, ask Sally. So I carried on to Maughold at a slow pace and I realised then that I had not passed or been passed by any walker since the top of the Sloc and somewhat unusually for me, there were no female walkers ahead of me. That soon changed as I was overtaken by the leading women and soon there was a spring in my step again as I had some nice derrieres to follow. That got me through to the moon over Laxey Bay and then on to the finish - what a fantastic feeling.

A final thank you to the people of the Isle of Man for making the Parish Walk what it is. Just like the TT races, I can't imagine anywhere else an event that relies so much on community spirit could take place.

For me, the last 18 months have been a journey... from couch potato to elite international athlete (well Parish Walk finisher at least). I told myself during the walk - NEVER AGAIN.

As you can see, I'm now back in training for Parish Walk 2011!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Last minute advice.

This is it. After months of training in dark, wet, snow conditions, and occasional fine weather, its almost time to start.

So here are a few last minute tips as it is going to be hot.

Drink plenty
Don't forget a cap/hat
Sun cream
Insect repellant
Petrol in support vehicle

And my favourite of all - vaseline. You just can't have enough of it. Look, people might find it a little amusing when you turn up in the morning looking like you are about to embark on a cross channel swim but you will have the last laugh when they look like this by Santon

And a little tip from Sally - be nice to your support driver! I would advise against having a domestic with your partner by the end of the access road and be reduced to communicating by text message by the top of the sloc whilst your support driver has walked off.

Any way, I hope everyone has an enjoyable day and good luck. See you on the line.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Less than 48 hours to go

I have spent the last day relaxing and catching up on a few jobs that needed doing at home. I went out yesterday and helped Sally deliver some road closure leaflets along the Douglas to Peel Road and then popped into the Crosby for some lunch. In the afternoon I watched a much better performance form the England team as they progressed through to the knock out stages. It looked like the other players enjoyed playing with John Terry, but in the last game it looked like the only reason the other players wanted him on the team is that they'd know he wasn't back in England ******* their wives. And it's not often that I have something good to say about the USA but they won their game yesterday ensuring England's next game is on Sunday afternoon rather than during the Parish Walk.

I then played football in the garden with my 8 year old son Max but on this occasion I treated it more like a friendly, concentrating on staying injury free rather than going all out for the victory.

I went down to the Parish Walk 50 year celebration last night and got a few last minute tips. Well done to Graham Young for organising an excellent and enjoyable event. I did get a few stern looks from my team mates when I pitched up with a pint in my hand but they will be pleased to know that I am now officially abstaining till after the walk. It was interesting to hear from the participants of the event in 1960 what kit they had but I did pick up a few tips - my list now consists of sandwiches, a butty bag and a pac-a-mac.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot hot hot.

I was driving the kids to school this morning when I heard the race director on the radio warning all entrants to drink plenty of fluids and not to forget the suncream as it is going to be dry and hot on Saturday. I have just checked the forum at and there is an up to date forecast by our race walking weather forecaster Adrian Cowin which I hope he doesn't mind me reproducing here - 'it's going to be staying fine and quiet this weekend thanks to a nice ridge of high pressure, but perhaps too hot for some of the walkers! Saturday will be dry, mostly sunny and very warm with temperatures rising to about 21C / 70F and light (5 to 10mph) S-SE'ly breezes. It will stay dry at night and for Sunday, still with light winds and warm temperatures.'

So there we have it, it looks like its going to be a hot one and I'm going to be sweating like a pregnant nun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cut your toe nails

Right. It's just under 4 days to go to the Parish according to my countdown timer. The winding down has gone so well the last few days and I'm so laid back I'm almost horizontal. I thought that I had better have a look at the Parish website to check out the advice and instructions and came across this bit of advice 'Write a list well ahead of time. Have your kit/equipment ready early so that you can be happy in the knowledge that everything is there and ready for use.' Ok so the training has gone well so far but the last minute preparation is non existant. So far I have got vaseline and plasters - sounds more like preparation for homestay with Boy George for the Bay Festival than preparation for the Parish Walk! So I will have to start making the list and get out to the shops before 1700 people descend on tesco panic buying powerade etc.

I went out for just a 3 mile walk last night as I had not done anything the previous 3 days and judging by the handfull of people out walking, I think most people are well on the way to winding down. I have suggested to our team captain that it might be a good idea to to go out for a few beers on Friday night as a team building exercise but he is having none of it - never mind.

My only tip for today is get your toe nails cut!

Right a few things to do around the house today and then I must start making that list. Oh and despite the poor England performances so far, I am looking forward to the England game tomorrow. But as a friend said to me after the last game, England's performance wasn't just bad, A paper-cut on my bell-end is bad and England were worse than that. Left me wondering what he was doing with the paper....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Winding down.

More by good luck than any planning, I am well on the way to winding down my training! I have only been out for two walks since last Friday. On Monday I went for a 9 mile walk and I have done the same again earlier this evening. I bumped into Lisa Motley on my walk on Monday jogging in the opposite direction.

The reason that I didn't go out training last night was that I had to head up to Laxey for a meeting in the evening. With the sunny evening, I think about half the entrants for this years Parish had decided to go for a walk between Douglas and Laxey. There would have barely been enough space for me to walk.

I only plan to do one or possibly two more training walks between now and the Parish. I won't get out this weekend as I am off to England with Max for a couple of cycling competitions with the Isle of Man youth cycling team. So it will be relaxation time and watching a bit of football in the evenings.

It was good to hear last years blogger Adam Killip talking about his involvement with the TT races on Manx Radio last Sunday morning. Keep up the good work, see you a week on Saturday!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Only two weeks to go.

Unfortunately I never made it out for a walk on Thursday but instead I did get out yesterday for a 9 mile walk around Baldwin. I managed to clock up one of my fastest times so some good must be coming of all this training! I did see for the first time Irene Taggart (12 times P.W. finisher, fastest time 20 hours 16 mins 57 s) out walking yesterday so the Parish Walk must be getting near.

Other than walking, I went up to Ballaugh Bridge to watch the Senior TT with Max and Zac. It was a good spot with the riders jumping over the bridge and The Raven pub right next to me. After the race was stopped, we went to watch the rerun of the race from the bottom of Bray Hill. I worked up a bit of a thirst during the 9 mile walk yesterday evening (look away now Dave Mackey!) so I went out on our post TT night out from work for a few drinks. I did walk home after, which added a couple of miles on to my tally but judging by the way some people were zig zagging up the road, I should have had a couple more drinks to make it a 3 or 4 mile walk home.

I think some football game is due to start any minute.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Get down the beer tent for race advice!

I went for a 21 mile walk on Saturday morning with Richard Gerrard. We set off at 7 am and I think that is probably my earliest training walk to date! We headed around the TT course, before the roads closed, to the Cronk Y Voddy straight and then back via Little London and Injebreek to Douglas. For the first time in training, spectators had come out to sit and watch how our training was going. There were quite a few spectators by Glen Helen although they could have been a bit more encouraging - they seemed more interested in the passing bikes. Anyhow, it was good to walk a consistent pace as when I have done that route previously, I have set off fast and then slowed right down.

I went to see Ian Brown at the Villa on Saturday night and bumped into fellow Parish Walkers Ed Walter and his team mate to exchange a few training tips by the bar. It sounds like their training is going well.

I have only been out far one more walk since Saturday which was a 6 mile walk yesterday. Hopefully I can get out again tomorrow and do 8 or 9 miles and then the same on Friday with any luck. I made my way down to the Bushy's beer tent last night to check out the entertainment on the prom. I bumped into my team mate Vinny Lynch by the bar and he gave me some sound advice for the day. I think he was going to give me more hints and tips but we were rudely interrupted by the wet T shirt competition. Might have to go down to the tent around the same time tonight for some more advice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Only a few miles this week.

The training hasn't gone so well these last few days! I did get out on Monday and went for a nine mile walk but things have gone downhill since then. I had planned to go out for a walk each day but for various reasons, things have got in the way and the training hasn't materialised. It was school sports day yesterday and I thought that at least I could get some much needed training in the ultra competitive dads race but alas my son was ill and I stayed at home with him instead.

Never mind, I'm sure the break has done some good and I have plans for a long walk in the morning. Probably the last long one before the big day with only 3 weeks to go.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eurovision ruined my training.

I went out for a 9 mile walk on Friday around the usual Baldwin route with Sally. It ended up being a mixture of paces, as Sally zoomed off into the distance when I had a brief stop, so the next couple of miles I spent trying to catch her up. So overall it was a good training session. I managed to get out for a brief walk last night after work and covered just over 3 miles but only at a slow pace.

I had toyed with the idea of stopping drinking alcohol in the run up to the Parish Walk (not the best time when the beer tent is being put up!) and decided to give it a go last night. Unfortunately, when I got in I found Sally was watching Eurovision on T.V. For any one lucky enough to have missed the program, there were no highlights to report. However I did think the Portuguese entry sounded like Mariah Carey with P.M.T. (she will probably turn out to be a portu-geezer). Needless to say, the abstaining didn’t last long and I woke up with a headache this morning for some reason.

The only good thing to come out of Eurovision is that I have now booked my summer holidays to Armenia having checked out their singer...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time passing quickly.

Time has passed me by this week. I didn't realise till I checked the blog today that it was a week since I last put anything on! I am trying to remember where last weekend went but I was working both days and went to a party on Saturday night so no walking then. On Monday, I went up to Ramsey with Sally and then walked back the Parish Walk route from Ramsey to Baldrine. I have previously walked the loop around Maughold in training but had never walked up to Lonan church - I'm glad I did! For some reason I had always imagined the church was just around the corner, I now know it is a third of a mile up a rather steep hill. Doesn't sound much when I put it like that but after nearly 80 miles on the day, I'm sure it will seem like miles. At least it's all down hill from there to the finish (apart from the hills at Baldrine, Whitebridge and Onchan).

Today I did another 16 mile walk but despite not doing anything for the past couple of days, my legs felt heavy and I didn't seem to be able to maintain much speed. Hopefully I should get out for a walk again tomorrow.

I was looking at the poll (who will win) on the Parish Walk web site the other day. My only observation is that I have seen the following athletes training in the past few days - Sean Hands (fast), Jock Waddington (fast), Mark Hempsall (fast) and Michael George(fast). However, I have passed them all (either in the car, walking in the opposite direction, or on the bike).

There is only just over four more weeks to go to the Parish Walk and the next two weeks are the TT the time will fly by!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Is that a banana in my pocket or am I pleased to see you?

Only 36 days to go now and if you haven't already started, may I suggest now is the time to get training! I didn't get out on Tuesday but I went for a 21 mile walk yesterday and things felt pretty good. I should be able to go for a shorter one later today as well.

Having never got round the lap of the Parish Walk, I am not in a position to give advice about what to eat and drink. However, I have asked various seasoned athletes for their advice and like most things with the Parish walk, everyone does completely different things. Here is a list of foods that have been suggested - pasta, sausage rolls, crisps, jelly babies, jam sandwiches, chocolate, tuna, sweet potato, chicken sandwiches, chips with salt, baby food, meat paste sandwiches and flapjacks. Drink suggestions are as follows water, flat coke and cordial with just a bit of salt added - sounds fantastic.

The only consistent bit of advice is to eat little and often.

Oh, and the only food suggestion that everyone seems to agree on is bananas. So it will most likely be a banana in my pocket!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beware of heart rate monitors.

After threatening to go for a walk yesterday, I instead went cycling with the boys so today I had to get out for a walk. I went for a 9 mile walk around my usual route of East and West Baldwin spotting a few walkers en route. I was hoping that I would feel good after not doing as much the past couple of weeks but instead my legs felt heavy and so I was not as quick as I had planned. By the time I took the children down to race walking, I was flagging. I think I will need a refreshing beer or two to rejuvinate myself this evening.

The good news is that all this training is making me fitter. Whilst in the hotel gym last week, I ventured on to one of their high tech cycling machines with a pulse monitor. Whilst peddling away my pulse was around 130 even when I was pushing quite hard (suppose the monitor could have been faulty). It took me back to a few years ago, during the height of my couch potato days, when my friend invited me to his gym. I went on the running machine and duly attached the pulse monitor. After about 30 seconds, my pulse was racing and after about two minutes my heart rate had hit the 'red zone' and the machine started to alarm with noises and flashing lights - might as well have had a big neon sign above saying Fat b@***** on the treadmill. I played it cool, casually moping my brow before heading off to the weights and dropping 3kg on my foot.

I plan to get out for a walk again tomorrow as long as Will doesn't ring me...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Slacking off.

Its been 8 days since I last got round to posting anything on here and during that time my training has been equally slack! I have managed to get out and about approximately every other day with a 9 mile walk being the furthest distance covered in one go. I also travelled over to the UK for 3 days during the week and only managed to head to the gym once but I'm not sure how useful sitting in a sauna and a steam room are for the Parish Walk!

So the countdown timer tells me that there are now just 40 days to go to the big day and I will hopefully be able to get in a few more miles this week as I have more free time than I have had in the past couple of weeks. I will try to get some decent miles under my belt in the next three weeks and then I will be able to wind things down for the last 3 weeks before the event.

I was looking at the parish walk website last night and I was under the impression that the entries were due to close at midnight, however according to the link, it appears that you can still enter till midnight tonight so still time to get those entries in by the looks of things.

I shall try not to leave it quite as long till I post again but I should have some more training to talk about in the next couple of days!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More beers than miles.

It's not been a great week for walking so far this week. Unfortunately work commitments and meetings have got in the way of training. The only real period of free time that I have had so far was Tuesday evening but instead of training I went to the Cat With No Tail for the presentation for the Sara Killey memorial walk. So instead of training, I ended up (along with several other parish walkers) drinking and talking about training! - I'm sure it helped my fitness levels. I am going to have to be selfish this next few days and get a few miles in.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A new route.

I have been pounding out the miles these last few days and also had a busy weekend. On Thursday I went for an eight mile walk around Douglas and on Friday, I went for a nine mile walk around East and West Baldwin. The weekend was quite hectic as my son Max was taking part in the Youth Tour cycling event so it was a case of trying to fit everything in around the timings of his races. As a result I didn’t get out for a walk on Saturday.

Yesterday, I helped out with the Peel to Douglas race where Sally maintained her third place in the Women’s race from the previous year. Then it was off to cycling down the NSC. I had said that I wanted to get out and walk a longer distance each week to build up my stamina and I had a 4 hour window yesterday afternoon. I had a quick look on the map and found a new route. Basically, I headed out of Douglas following the TT course to the Cronk Y Voddy straight (not too dangerous - pavements most of the way). Then I headed down the right hand turn that takes you to Little London and then followed the B10 in the direction of Brandywell before turning off towards Injebreck and then back to Douglas. The total distance was 21 miles and there was a good long uphill section for several miles from Ballacraine to the top of Little London. I did find it quite hard going and my pace tailed off towards the end but it was nice to get out into the country with only the sheep for company!

P.s. I wasn’t worrying them.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I am not in pain!

I went for my first walk again on Tuesday. I decided to do a short 5 mile walk around Douglas in the afternoon but was apparently spotted by Sandra Halpin who thought that I looked in extreme pain! Although my legs felt tight after the weekends walk, I wasn't in pain - just my usual facial expression when I'm enjoying walking (As can be seen on the photo of me on this website). It was going OK till I got a call from Maureen Moffat's (4 times P.W. finisher) husband to call me into work - I think he was really trying to scupper my training. So I ended up jogging the last mile and a half. I passed Mark Hempsall on the way back, he was unlucky to be injured and unable to defend his title last Sunday but was out and about to support the race.

I went for a 9 mile walk around Baldwin yesterday and another 8 mile walk today around Douglas, both at a reasonable pace. One of the most pleasing aspects after last Sundays race has been my recovery. In the past it has always taken me a while to get going again after an event but this time has been much better. Hopefully this is a sign that I am getting fitter.

The only other thing that I have to mention still from last Sundays race is that my support was excellent - I have had terrible earache this past few days for not mentioning it so far.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why am I doing the Parish walk!

About 25 miles into the Sara Killey memorial walk on Sunday, I remembered just how painful long distance walking can be and was thinking to myself why do I want to walk 85 miles! It reminded me just how sore my legs felt in the parish last year. Fortunately, that thought soon faded and within a few hours it didn't seem so bad after all.

I was using the walk as preparation for the Parish not just with walking the distance but also footwear, food, support etc. However, I was really pleased with my time and position in the walk and overall, things pretty much went to plan. I thought I would use this entry while things are fresh in my mind to share things that went well and things that need some improvement.

Firstly, liberal vaseline in the morning - I had no chaffing thanks to my trusty tub of vaseline. I also ate little and often from the beginning of the walk and that seemed to keep up my energy levels reasonably well - I was eating fruit (banana) and chocolate biscuits. I also managed to drink a reasonable amount but found the orange energy flavour drink too sickly after a while and found it much easier to drink orange squash drink. I think on the Parish I will need to be eating and drinking more frequently than I did last Sunday. Footwear was a positive for me too. I wore a pair of trusty old 1000 mile socks (Not a popular choice by most people but I bought a few pairs last year which are made of a thinner material and never cause me any problems - They don't seem to make these thinner ones any more. The rest of the 1000 mile sock range which I have tried do cause me blisters however). I also wore my old asics gel trainers, and with this combination I did not have any pain or blisters whatsoever. After the walk, I felt quite unwell for the first 3 or 4 hours but my recovery was rapid after that and yesterday, my legs didn't feel as stiff and sore as I had expected and I went for a 1 mile swim last night to loosen up and I plan to get out walking again later today.

The things that I learnt from this walk is that between now and the Parish, I could do with improving my stamina as I could feel my energy levels rapidly tailing off towards the end of the walk. Obviously, on the Parish I won't be setting off at anything like the pace I was walking last Sunday and also on the Parish I plan to walk at a much more consistent pace. So I plan to do one longer walk per week for the next 6 weeks or so. My night before preparation also left a little to be desired. After abstaining from alcohol for the previous 2 or 3 nights, I decided to pop down to the pub for a pint to relax the pre race walk nerves on Saturday night. When we got home, I asked Sally to get me another can of lager and she said 'you're walking tomorrow and shouldn't be drinking lager, you should be drinking wine instead' So as the evening went on and we were sharing the wine out, Sally came up with the classic quote 'you have the rest of the wine, I've got to be the support driver tomorrow'. Fortunately, I don't think it affected my race on this occasion. Definitely not doing it on the evening of the Parish though.

After the walk I was lucky enough to get a massage from Lisa Motley (3 P.W. finishes, P.B. 20 hours 13 min's 38 s.) and as she was rubbing my inner thigh she gave me a top tip. She suggested walking the sections of the Parish Walk in training that you think you will struggle on, and then they won't seem as bad on the day if you have walked them when you felt good. You never know where your next top tip is coming from!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Resting up before Sunday.

I was tied up last Sunday teaching on a course but I thought there was a possibility that I might be able to escape for an hour or so to sneak down to the NSC for the 5km walk. That, plus the fact that Jock Waddington and Dave Mackey had been persuading me to enter earlier in the week gave me the encouragement I needed. I was surprised to find when I got there that after all the persuasion from Jock, a hangover had got the better of him and he was watching! I managed to come home in 5th place largely due to the fact that a number of faster people didn't enter. I was quite pleased with my time as I hadn't really planned to do it and my legs felt quite heavy from the 18 miles that I had covered the previous evening. As soon as I finished, I had to dash off and miss out on the close finish between my wife and her sister (and the ensuing sibling rivalry!)

The rest of the week, I have been taking it fairly easy in preparation for the Sara Killey walk this Sunday. I went to the children's race walking on Monday evening and on Wednesday I went for a 9 mile walk around East and West Baldwin. Now I bumped into Sean Hands during that walk and I can, for once say that I actually passed Sean not once but twice during the course of the walk. Unfortunately, on both occasions, he was going considerably faster and in the opposite direction.

Apart from kicking a football around the garden with the children last night and tonight, I am otherwise resting up now for the big day on Sunday. I have even managed to avoid any alcohol in the past 48 hours (not intentionally, just due to work commitments).

Just a quick good luck to all the local athletes competing in the London Marathon on Sunday. I was talking to Rosie Craine on Tuesday and I hadn't considered the impact that the volcanic ash cloud would have until she told me of her travel arrangements and plan B that she had come up with. Probably the last thing that was needed after all the months of training and preparation.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stop procrastinating

By the time I had finished writing the blog on Thursday, I didn't leave myself enough time to get down to the NSC and walk, so I went for a 6 mile walk from home instead. I was rather pleased with my effort so to follow up, I went for an 8 mile walk around Onchan and Douglas yesterday evening. I was spurred on as I walked at great speed past the pub, safe in the knowledge that I would be inside it within the hour!

I woke this morning feeling refreshed so I don't have any top tips for walking with a hang over, other than best not to. Unfortunately, I got into my old habit of putting off the walking today. I had planned to get out and do a longer walk as recently all my walks have been over a short distance. I did start with good intentions by putting on my T shirt and shorts. But the sun was shining and the birds were singing and I started to relax in the garden. By lunchtime, the BBQ was lit and I was helping myself to a refreshing can of lager. As I sat in the sun with my T shirt off (ladies, please try and control yourselves), the burgers cooking and sipping on the lager, I thought to myself, is this the behaviour of an elite international athlete? Is this what Roger Black taught me when he gave his motivational talk? I don't think so!

So I put the t shirt back on and dragged myself out and walked 18 miles. I now realise that I need to do some regular longer walks as my legs are aching a lot this evening. Hopefully I have learnt the lesson and next time I will get out and do the walk earlier rather than putting it off.

Good luck to everyone competing in the 5km race at the NSC in the morning.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Several short walks this week.

I have been reasonably disciplined this week with training so far. As promised I went for a walk on Sunday evening after work. I was quite impressed with myself as I didn't get in till 8pm so it took a bit of effort to go out instead of having a relaxing drink. It was the first training I had done for about 10 days and I felt really quite rusty and even though I only covered about 5 miles, my legs were aching after.

I also managed to get out yesterday and the day before and cover about 5 miles on each occasion. I'm also planning to head down to the NSC in a few minutes when I've finished this to do a few laps. Hopefully I will get out in the next couple of days and cover a longer distance.I think the best chance of that will be on Saturday morning but that could be difficult as I'm off out for a meal and a few drinks tomorrow evening - I might have a headache to accompany my training walk!

As you might have guessed, I have started to scrape the barrel with walking songs to accompany the blog (some might think that I was scraping the barrel from the beginning). So the options are that I keep coming up with bad songs associated with walking, or people suggest some better songs or alternatively press the mute button.

Maybe my next post will include top tips for walking with a hangover.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back to it tomorrow!

I haven't updated the site for the last week as I'm afraid I haven't done anything. After the vomiting bug last week which put paid to the Mountain Marathon, it took me a few days to get back to eating and only in the past 24 hours have I had normal energy levels. Today I had commitments with the children all day so any chance of exercise went out of the window. Looking on the bright side, hopefully I will be re-energised after the enforced rest break of the past week.

Without doing any exercise, I have taken to watching some sport. I went down to the NSC to watch the 5km walk on Thursday night. Some of the top Parish Walkers were racing and they all seem to be hitting top form at the right time. I also watched a bit of the Masters golf on T.V. the other night until Sally asked me why I was watching a load of men hit an egg with a stick. I didn't have an answer so I switched over.

Only 2 weeks to go till the Sara Killey memorial walk. Got to get out for a walk after work tomorrow.....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Non starter

After watching the excellent 10k race last night I was all set for the Marathon today. All the preparation had gone well and I was looking forward to the race this morning. Unfortunately things went rapidly down hill overnight as I succumbed to the vomiting bug which my children had earlier in the week (I will spare you the graphic details). I was so disappointed not to be able to take part, even to the point of trying to get up at half past seven this morning to see if there was any possibility I could race. Realistically, I knew that there was no chance. So disappointing, I'd better go now before I start swearing....

Friday, April 2, 2010

Only 84 days to go.

Time is ticking by rather rapidly - only 84 more days to go to the big day. I have been out doing a few short walks this week. It was heavy rain on Tuesday so I went for a swim followed by 45 minutes walk training down at the NSC with Allan Callow. On Wednesday, I went for a 5 mile walk after it had stopped snowing and yesterday I went for a 6 mile walk. I'm not quite sure why but I have felt quite tired when walking this week and on each occasion felt quite slow. Hopefully it's just a blip.

Today is a rest day before the Manx Mountain Marathon tomorrow. It's a bit like a practice run for the Parish Walk as I am going to get all my kit out shortly in preparation and get the food and drinks ready. A few people laugh at the volumes of food and drink that I take when doing a serious event. However, I have learnt from experience. On the End to End walk last year I took quite a bit of food in the support car which Sally drives along often accompanied by Zac, Max and sometimes Jenny. Unfortunately the kids think its their birthday and usually by the first rendezvous, the kids have chocolate around the mouth and half the food is gone. Sally usually prefers the fruit. I shall see what the weather and the day brings tomorrow.

With a rest day, it gives me the opportunity to help out with the Easter Athletics Festival 10k this evening. I have run this both last year in a time of 45 mins 33 and the year before without any training in a time of 54 mins 44 and it would have been interesting to see how much I have improved (or deteriorated) with regular training this year. There are lots of good young athletes in the race so I will be heading down South later to check out the talent.

That reminds me of a little anecdote. Sally entered the Peel Hill race a couple of years ago and in support, I walked about half way up Peel Hill to encourage her. Amongst the front runners in the race was blonde student who, as she was just running in front of me, promptly collapsed. With no one else around apart from the other athletes I had no option but to help out and offer the kiss of life. Sally came through around the middle of the field to find me in what could have been interpreted as a compromising position. The young lady did take a while to come round - I was still in the same position when Sally came past a second time on the descent. Not the sort of encouragement she was looking for. I can report that both the athlete and myself made a full recovery.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Be careful what you wish for.

Sorry about the lack of posts these past few days but for various reasons, I have not had as much time for posting or training for that matter as I would have liked! The planned walk last Tuesday and Wednesday went by the wayside however I had set aside some time last Thursday to do a last bit of training and reccying for the Manx Mountain Marathon. I had decided to set out and do the half marathon route from St Johns to Port Erin.

Thursday morning came along and with it the heavens had opened but by sheer luck, the mist was obscuring the rain. Sally came with me for for a bit of company the first 4 miles or so before running back to the car on the roads. Sally has competed in quite a few fell runs in the past and she always wished one day that we would go running around the hills together but a few years ago, her fell running days coincided with my intensive couch potatoe training regime and so it never happened. Now she is being more careful what she wishes for!

So off I went with visibility of about 20 meters thinking, if I can find my way in this mist, there should be no problems on the day. It was actually surprisingly easy to find the route following two simple rules. One, when ascending a hill - keep going up hill till you can go no further up hill and Two, anything that looks vaguely like a path masquerading as a stream will be a path. Rule two can be applied to both up hill and down hill sections and even bizarrely, on the flat. I finally got to Port Erin in quite a good time for me in just under 3 hours and felt OK apart from I think I will lose my left big toe nail after it rubbed on my fell shoes - that'll be one less to lose on the Parish!

I did take the opportunity to take some photos of the views. This is looking south from the top of South Barrule.

This is looking North from the top of South Barrule.

And this is me enjoying the view...

Yesterday, I took part in the final round of the 10km Winter Walking league and after managing to improve my personal bests in each round, I finished the series by walking my slowest race of the series. So it was back to the drawing board today to get my self motivated again for a final 3 month push on training and what better way than to listen to Roger Black tell us how he prepared and motivated himself to become (amongst his many achievements) an Olympic Medalist. This was an excellent presentation followed by a question and answer session from some of the local celebrities. I was so motivated by the end, I talked myself out of a trip to MacDonald's for lunch and I am now back on track to be an elite international athlete.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I am the weakest link!

Well I returned back to the Isle of Man a couple of days ago after a fantastic week skiing. By the end of the week, even with my lack of balance and incoordination, I could actually ski! Not quite as well as my 6 year old Zac, who after a couple of days had the knack of just going straight down any hill without falling over once. I managed to avoid breaking any bones but have a few bruises and a huge bruise covering my right thigh - I'm happy to post the pictures if I get enough requests!

Quite a bit has been happening over the past week whilst I have been away. I see, with Murray's frequent updates, that the entries are now flooding in. There are now less than 100 days to go to the big day. I notice that our final team member has also entered - Peter Ryan (The plod!). Although Peter is like me a novice to the Parish Walk, that is where the similarity ends. Unlike me, Peter is an experienced race walker with a vast number of races under his belt including winning a 100 mile walk! So that's the team, Peter Ryan a centurion winner, Dave Mackey, fastest first time finisher in 2008, Vinny Lynch, fastest first time finisher in 2009 and me - so no pressure whatsoever on me!

That has inspired me to get back to the training today and with less than 2 weeks to the Manx Mountain Marathon, I ran (and frequently and for prolonged periods walked) the route from Ramsey to Greeba. All the snow had gone from the tops but I set out this morning in heavy rain and mist. Fortunately the rain and mist cleared but with the ground so wet, almost every path had turned into a stream so it was a bit heavy going. I did however manage to find some better routes especially crossing the stream at Injebreck and ascending Colden so hopefully, I will be that bit fitter and better prepared.

I will hopefully get a walk in tomorrow and possibly on Wednesday. In the meantime, apologies for the music but it was requested by Sam my 16 year old son.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bend ze knees.

Training this week has changed somewhat. Instead of walking, for the first time in my life I am trying to ski! All seven of us travelled to a place in the French Alps on Saturday called Les Carroz. Yesterday was the first time on the nursery slopes but of course we bumped into some other Manx people. Sally managed to recall how to ski from a couple of ski trips as a teenager and the kids took to it like ducks to water. On the other hand, I let the side down and have some fairly impressive bruises to show for my efforts. Today went slightly better with only 3 falls and no embarrasing moments on the drag lift. Bring on tomorrow.

Looking at the countdown timer, next time I post there will be less than 100 days to go till the Parish Walk....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More and more people out training.

After a good start to the week on Monday, training has ground to a halt the past couple of days. I went for an 8 mile walk on Monday around Baldwin and then went with Max to the children's race walking session at the NSC on Monday evening. Unfortunately, I was struck down with a stomach bug yesterday so I couldn't train and today, I took it fairly easy and ended up doing some work in the garden. I am on annual leave for the next couple of weeks so I was hoping to do quite a bit of training this week. Next week we are all going on holiday, so I will update the blog from our holiday destination (assuming I can get internet access)!

I am off to Royal Ramsey for the final round of the Fireman's runs tomorrow and it will be a good indicator as to if I have continued to improve or not. More importantly, there is a presentation after so the opportunity for a beer cannot slip by!

As the days get longer and the Parish Walk approaches, I am seeing more and more people out training. I bumped into Michael Shipsides today just before he was off for a training walk. I also saw Michael George, Shirley Gage and David Taylor race walking past my house during the afternoon. If you can't beat them, join them.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Slow and steady.

Not too much exercise the past few days. I went out to reccy the Manx Mountain Marathon course from Ramsey to the Bungalow. Despite the warmer sunshine and light winds at ground level, that wasn't the case up North Barrule! I went up there with Sally and once we were approaching the summit, the wind picked up to a gale. That coupled with the thick snow at the tops made it virtually impossible to run. We did run along the ridge towards Clagh Ouyr (following a couple of sets of footprints in the snow) but the wind, snow and low cloud (or mist - not sure which it is when you are in it) made it impossible to cover the ground and we descended back to the Mountain Road to follow the road back to Ramsey.

The only other thing that I have done is go for a 5 mile walk and bumped into a couple of last years P.W. finishers, Bernie Ball and Carl Senogles, on the prom in Douglas. Unfortunately, I was working today so I missed the Manx Harriers Open Meeting at the NSC. Well done to everyone who took part and the officials, organisers and judges. Thanks to the internet, I was lucky enough to be able to keep an eye on the results and see a few photos as it happened thanks to another P.W finisher from 2009, Paul Jackson. I was also able to watch a bit of the racing thanks to a previous Parish Walk winner Murray Lambden and his YouTube video. How he finds time to do all the video, editing, publishing and then run 10k faster than I could dream of, I will never know. Back to training then......

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The team is taking shape.

As promised, I got out bright and early on Saturday morning and went for a 16 mile walk with Richard Gerrard. We headed up to Laxey from Douglas via the Creg Ny Baa Back Road and then went through Glen Roy before descending into Laxey and following the Coast Road back to Douglas. The route between Douglas and Laxey was fairly undulating to say the least so it was a good training session. I was fortunate to be walking with someone otherwise, as the going got tough, the tough would have been tempted to continue up the Back Road and into the Creg to put my feet up for the rest of the day!

Sunday was a quiet day and I just played a few games of tennis with my wife and the youngest 2 boys, Max and Zac. I also managed to catch a bit of the football in the afternoon and rather depressingly watched Man U win.

I notice that there has been a lot more entries for the P.W. in the past few days. Amongst the entrants I saw a former blogger, Adam Killip's name on the list. I think he is now about to or has reached the ripe old age of 21 so he will be able to continue past Peel and possibly go for a full lap. I also see another of mt team mates has put his entry in. The team (3 walkers and a plod) so far consists of Dave Mackey, Vinny Lynch (as the 2 previous finishers) and myself - so no pressure on me!! We are just waiting on our 4th team member to enter. We make up the 3 walkers so we are just waiting for the plod to enter.

The Manx Mountain marathon draws ever closer and so today I decided to go for a longer run and went for a 16 mile jog. It was a bit of a struggle after 10 miles and that was just running on the roads. Hopefully on the day, I will be able to maintain a sensible pace and keep going to hang on to the end.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A legend and a gentleman.

I have let my training lapse the last few days and so I haven't had much to report on the Blog! I have been working long hours this week and had commitments on a few nights as well so I have had little time to squeeze in training. I should have gone out tonight for a run or walk after work but a blocked sink put paid to that so I am sat down having a beer instead of exercising. The problem with not getting out is that it becomes easier to put off the training and become less motivated so I have arranged an early morning walk tomorrow to get back into the swing of things.

Although I haven't been out training for the past few days, the Parish Walk hasn't been completely out of my mind. In fact if you are not training for it, what better than to talk about it! I was fortunate enough to bump into a gentleman on Wednesday and after talking for a while, the subject turned to the Parish Walk. He told me that he had completed the Parish Walk in 2009 in 166th place, in a time of 23 Hours 15 mins 17s. Not bad you might think but he seemed a little disappointed that he was 2 seconds slower than his finish in 2008. And he was slower than his P.W. time when he completed the course in 2007. This is starting to sound impressive! The really impressive thing was that his P.B. Parish Walk lap was 21 hours, 43 mins 50s (The time in itself was good enough) but he completed his P.B. lap in 1961!!!!

I was lucky enough to bump into Michael Gray who completed the 2009 Parish Walk at the age of 74. I had to admit to him that my effort last year was, in comparison, pathetic. Michael and his wife had some great stories about the Parish Walk and he is hoping to walk again in this years event, the 50th race since he first entered in 1960. To find out more about Michael Gray, click on the link to 'old features' from the Parish Walk home page and scroll down to find him.

Right, thats got me motivated again. I'm going to the pub now and then back to the training in the morning at 07.30 hours prompt!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A longer walk at last

After promising myself that I would go for a longer walk, I finally managed to get out on Friday and went for a 25 mile walk. I headed out on the Parish route to Rushen and the original plan was to head over the Sloc to Peel. I had some encouragement shouted at me on the Peel road by passing motorist Michael Shipsides (4 times P.W finisher and P.B. 17 hours 4mins 21s). However, after 17 miles at a fast pace, I was feeling extremely fatigued and I decided to miss out Ballakillowey and the Sloc and headed to Port St Mary and then back towards Douglas at a steadier pace. I think there were 2 lessons learnt from this. The first was that I was probably going too fast initially and the second was that although I had food with me, I didn't eat anything till I got to the point that I was feeling really tired after 17 miles. About 15 minutes after eating something and walking at a steadier pace, I felt much better and walked another 8 miles before deciding to stop for the day.

The other positive that I can take is that I seem to be able to recover much quicker than I ever could in the past. My muscles felt a little achy on Friday night and yesterday morning but I had planned to enter the Glen Mona fell race yesterday. So off I went to Glen Mona and after a short jog to warm up, the tightness seemed to have settled in my legs. It was a seven mile route and there were two starts, an early start for anyone expecting to take longer than 90 minutes or a later start for the quicker runners. I thought that I was going to be right on the 90 minute margin so to set myself a challenge (and because I was running late as usual!), I decided to set off with the elite athletes. I was quite please to come in 1 hour 27 mins. especially as I lost the path for the last mile or so and ended up being slowed by the dense heather.

I think I will need to get out on a few longer walks over the next few weeks in order to get my legs stronger and a little more practice with eating. I think little and often is the rule.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

School boy errors.

I have been quite pleased with my training this week although I made a couple of school boy errors! I went out for a run on Monday evening which I found quite hard going. Now normally when I go out training on my own, I take my Ipod with me to listen to. I have a mixture of tracks on there mainly consisting of rock and heavy metal which I find quite motivational for training. On Monday however, I had forgotten to charge my Ipod and it had a flat battery. Sally kindly offered to lend me her Ipod and off I went for an 8 mile run listening to Take Thats greatest hits (a contradiction in terms if ever there was one!) - Hardly motivational. It would only have been slightly worse had it been Jedward's Ice Ice Baby on repeat. So the run was hard going but at least I will remember to charge the Ipod in future!

The second school boy error occurred yesterday. I decided to recce the Southern section of the Manx Mountain Marathon from the Round Table to Port Erin. I went with Sally and took two cars to Port Erin, left one there and drove back to the Round Table. Off we went and covered the 7.1 mile section in a reasonable time. I was quite pleased that this section of the route is relatively easy compared with the rest of the route although I'm sure trying to get up Bradda after covering the rest of the course will be a bit of an ordeal. On returning to the car in Port Erin and feeling rather pleased with myself, I suddenly realised I had left the keys in the car at the Round Table - How popular was I!! So the only option was to casually add on a few miles of road running from Port Erin, following the Parish route up Ballakillowey to the Sloc. Luckily, some kind souls in a camper van on their holidays from Liverpool gave me a lift the last 3 miles up the Sloc Road to the Round Table crossroads.

So lessons learned this week, charge the Ipod and don't forget the car keys!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Early morning walk.

Well valentines day came and went. What with all my training, I didn't manage to get out and buy anything for Sally! Luckily, I think I managed to dig myself out of that hole with the fantastic card I gave her pictured below. If I know her like I think I know her, then she was over the moon. It was one of a multipack, so I am still waiting on replies from the other 9 that I sent (You lucky ladies).

I think I have mentioned before that I am not really a morning person but on Saturday I went for a longer walk with Richard Gerrard setting off in the morning frost at 7.40am. We covered just over 16 miles but was back home for 11am and felt much better for it. Normally, I would set off much later but by the time I get home, most of the day has gone. Only once in the past 18 months have I set off earlier than that for a walk so I was quite impressed with myself.

Yesterday was a rest day, but this evening I will head down to the NSC with Max for the children's race walking class. I have started to see more and more people out walking and the evenings are now starting to become lighter for longer. I am looking forward to the clocks changing so that evening walks will be more enjoyable. I am still in tracksuit bottoms at the moment as it is so cold but as the weather gets warmer, I might be tempted to start wearing shorts. My only concern is that I will end up looking like Alan Partridge.....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The entry has gone in.

Taking Murray's advice not to leave entries too late, I became the 271st entrant into this years Parish Walk today. In the past, when my training has been rather slack, I would have to put an entry into an event in order to give me something to aim for and get out training. Hence I entered in the December before last years Parish Walk to get me motivated and go out and do something. However, with the blog and encouragement from friends, family and team mates, I have all the motivation that I need this year.

I was a bit tight around my hamstrings earlier in the week after the walk on Sunday but this eased after walking around the NSC track on Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday, I went out and ran the section of the mountain marathon from the Bungalow to St Johns (I say run, more like the odd section of jogging interrupted with prolonged periods of walking and the occasional episode of climbing and hyperventilating). It was a clear day but with it, the ground was frozen. I am not sure if i took the correct route up Colden from Injebreck but the route I took was very vertical and thick in heather. If anyone is aware of the correct route, please leave me a comment! It was quite tough running through heather but hopefully someone will be up there the week before the race with a strimmer...

I still haven't been out and done a longer walk yet although I keep saying that I will. If I don't do it on Saturday, then I will definitely go for one next Wednesday.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

That Manx Mountain Marathon again.

I have, over the past 6 weeks or so, been toying with the idea of entering the Manx Mountain Marathon. Up until now, I have been safe in the knowledge that I am actually working that day so if training wasn't going so well or if I just didn't feel like it nearer the time, I had an excuse! Unfortunately, I made the mistake of swapping shifts a couple of days ago and now I have no excuses left up my sleeve. At least I will have something to focus on in my training for the next 8 weeks.

The next thing to do is to enter. There are 2 start times, 7.30 am or 9.15 am for those who expect to finish in less than 7 hours. I am not quite sure how long it will take me but not being a morning person I am going to go for the relatively luxurious 9.15 start.

Exercise for the past few days consisted of the fireman's run in Ramsey on Thursday night. Thanks to Murray for putting my photo on the front page of the manxathletics website. I think that you can see from any photos of me, just how much fun I am having whilst participating in these events - especially the one on the Parish Walk website!

Today I went to Andreas for the winter walking league where there was a big turnout and I also met fellow blogger Dudley. I actually had everything prepared for once except I forgot to abstain from alcohol last night - Doh. I even remembered to smear vaseline in all the relevant chaffing areas - nice. (Now there is a top tip for the Parish Walk - you cannot have too much vaseline at the start, go on apply it liberally, you know it makes sense). However, I managed to get a new personal best but I'm not sure where I came overall in the race yet.

Hopefully I will get out and keep the training going in the next few days.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Different training schedules.

I have been catching up (as in talking to and not overtaking!) with a few Parish walk finishers in the past few days. On Tuesday, I went to the NSC and did a few laps with Richard Gerrard. Looking through the Parish Walk stats, 2009 was his second finish in a time of 17 hours, 12 mins 20s and an improvement of 4hours and 18 s on his first finish! That made him the second most improved walker in the 2009 parish - could have been the most improved finisher if only he'd taken his time the year before!! He is training quite a bit already and looking to improve on his 11th place last year.

On the other end of the training spectrum, I bumped into Keith Wilkinson the other day. He has finished the Parish 5 times and also walked the course in reverse one year when he failed to get his entry in on time! (As Murray says, no late entries - No exceptions. Although I believe Keith still entered on the morning of the closing date last year). I think Keith started his training about 6 weeks before the Parish last year when we went out together for a 10 mile walk and he managed to get a blister. I don't think he did many more training sessions but he still got round the course in 21 hours 38 mins 55 s some way behind his P.B. 19 hours 24 mins 34 s. These people must have amazing levels of fitness or determination or both to walk the 85 miles with minimal training. Despite finishing the Parish at around 6am on the Sunday morning, he did walk to the pub on the Sunday evening! I didn't get chance to ask him how his training was going but I can't imagine that he has planned that far ahead yet.

I was also talking to Will Moffatt a couple of weeks ago. He is support driver and husband (not necessarily in that order) to Maureen Moffatt. We were talking about training and Maureen is one of these people who produces a good time without training constantly. Will was telling me that she gradually builds up her training for about 3 months prior to the Parish. She was third female in 2009 with a time of 17 hours 43 mins 52 s on her 4th Parish walk finish.

I'm not quite sure what all this means. Some people train all year round, some people train for a few months before and others get around the Parish with just sheer determination. I think I'm going to need both the training and the determination!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too much work and not enough exercise.

My manic phase of exercise has come to the end for the time being. I went for a cycle ride on Thursday but other than that I haven't done any training. This is mainly for two reasons, the first one is that work has got in the way of training so I have had no free time. Isn't it a pain when that happens. The second reason is that I have had a bit of a cold but being a man, I dont want to really talk about that. I mean obviously the sore throat has been terrible, and the feeling of lethargy has not been great either - but I'm not going to moan.
Hopefuly I will get back to some sort of training tomorrow now that the severe headaches and runny nose are starting to subside. (I've heard women mention in passing that child birth is an annoyance but they don't have to put up with man flu do they). Just to ensure that I am up to training again, I'm having a test tonight to see if I can tolerate a few drinks without too many ill effects and if so, I am well on the road to recovery.
I think this week (if the generalised muscle aches and shivers have settled) I will go for a longer walk of twenty miles or so. I think it is now about time to start building up the distances. There is also the Firemans run coming up on Thursday and the winter walking league next Sunday. Plenty of encouragement to get back on track!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Getting in touch with my feminine side.

For a man, I have taken a somewhat unhealthy interest in foot wear over the past few months. I now have a collection of footwear that would rival most women (O.K. I am exaggerating a bit!) However, I currently have on the go 3 pairs of trainers of which 2 pairs are asics 'cushioned' trainers and a pair of saucony fastwitch 'lightweight' trainers. I found out why they are light weight - they have holes in the soles so you get wet feet! There is a dazzling array of trainers out there - cushioned, stability, motion control, racing, training. I'm afraid I am no expert in this field, so far I have been lucky with my 'mmm they feel alright' approach to buying trainers. Up until now and with my maximum distance 45 miles, I have never suffered with major problems with my feet. When I do get my next blister, I will publish my guide of how to deal with blisters!

I also now have a pair of fell running shoes and a pair of cycling shoes with 'clip ons'. They have the added benefit of making you fall off your bike when you come to a stop. One bit of advice is to buy the shoes a little bigger than your natural shoe size as your feet do tend to swell when you have been on them for a few hours and also to avoid lacing them too tight. I am a size 10 and normally wear size 11 trainers for walking, however my wife keeps trying to buy me bigger and bigger trainers as she now thinks I am size 11. I am going to end up looking like a clown rather than an elite international athlete!

As far as training goes, I have been to race walking at the NSC the last couple of nights. The adult class on Tuesday is getting more and more popular with at least 20 people yesterday and a similar number last week. Last night there were complete novices, right through to the likes of Michael George (4 times finisher, P.B. 15 hours 57 mins 0s) and Sean Hands (5 times finisher AND all time fastest Parish Walker 14 hours 47 mins 36s). So get down there next week, meet at 6pm on the running track. I have also been out checking out the Manx Mountain Marathon course and did the 6.5 mile section from St John's to the Round Table yesterday morning.

I heard this weeks music on the radio yesterday and it got me thinking about the stretch of the Parish Walk from Jurby to Douglas...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

154 Days to go!

It still sounds a long way away but there are only 154 days to go till this years Parish Walk. It doesn't seem that long since entries opened but that was 55 days ago! So unless you are one of these people who just seem to be able to turn up and walk the course with little preparation, its time to get out training. Plus the added advantage of the daylight is starting to get a little bit longer.
I have been out for a run this evening and out for an eight mile walk yesterday and the day before. It was good to see Dave Mackey out training again yesterday and was rather pleased with myself when I passed him (I was going in the opposite direction). We have also finalised a team to enter for the event this year. I am not going to announce the line up as yet but the pressure is on me as I have nowhere near the walking experience of any of the other members - at least it is good motivation to train.
Don't forget the next round of the winter walking league is on Sunday 7 February at Andreas (full details at This is excellent training and speaking from experience, amateur walkers are welcome. My first attempt was 10 months ago and I covered the 10km distance in just under 80 minutes finishing in a splendid last place!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Because I'm worth it

After the fell race on Saturday, I was looking forward to a rest on Sunday. However, I received a text from Dave ‘sick note’ Mackey (Fastest first time finisher 2008, 18 hours 3 mins 17s) on Saturday evening inviting me to go for a walk with him and Vinny ‘the hitman’ Lynch (Fastest first time finisher 2009, 17 hours 5 mins 8s) on Sunday morning. I couldn’t resist the temptation of going for a walk with them, even though they were going at 8am on Sunday morning (surely elite international athletes have a lie in on Sundays). So, off we went for an 8 mile walk up to Strang, Glen Vine and back to Douglas passing Peter Kaneen (4 times p.w. finisher, P.B. 15 hours 26 mins 7s) on the way. I normally get by on very little sleep but for the first time in years I slept for a full 12 hours on Sunday night.

On Monday I tried out my new bike again and cycled around the TT course (except coming from Ramsey to Douglas on the coast road instead of over the mountain). My only down fall was the slightly unhealthy fish and chips at Ramsey Trawlerman half way round – very tasty. I went to the children’s race walking class on Monday evening with my 8 year old son for a bit of humiliation from the expert kids!

Yesterday I went for a 5 mile walk with Sally in the morning and then went to race walking again in the evening. I think I have now hit a manic point in my training because this morning I was dragged down to the pool and swam a mile with Sally and then this evening I went for an 8 mile run. However, this manic phase has got to come to an end (fortunately) and I will be doing a bit less over the next few days.

I have got to send a little get well message out to my sister in law Judith Quane who managed to fall over in the dark whilst walking last night and is now wearing seven stitches in her leg - hope they made a neat job Judith or your stocking modelling days will be over.

I have just had a very relaxing bath and a refreshing pint of lager. The advantage of living with 3 females (4, if you count my 16 year old son) is that you are never short of hair care products. Tonight, from the vast array that I was confronted with, I went for moisture and shine shampoo with orchid and coconut extracts for dry/damaged hair and lightweight conditioner with white nectarine and pink coral flower extracts for fine/normal hair – because I’m worth it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Greeba fell race

Like a mutant mountain goat, I entered the Greeba fell race today - my first attempt at fell racing. It was over 9 miles and had an ascent of 2300 feet. I spent a bit more time preparing on this occasion getting the kit together with minutes to spare. I even looked at the route on the map until my wife gave me a bit of advice - just follow the person in front!
So, off I went running up Greeba Hill till it started to get steep and then moved onto walking up Greeba Hill, then it started to get steeper and I moved onto staggering. Now a little tip I learnt in the early stages, if you think you are catching up with the person in front, you are not. It's just that the hill is getting steeper!
Anyhow, I soon got into my stride and after about 3 miles the field was thinning out. Actually the person in front was barely visible in the distance and I couldn't see anyone behind. I had no option but to try and catch up with the person in front, otherwise I was lost! Over the next few miles, I slowly closed the gap and in a moment of stupidity overtook the guy ahead of me. I think the marshalls at the next checkpoint thought I was joking when I asked them which way it was next. Luckily, the guy behind me caught me again and I was able to follow him to the end.
Overall I was quite pleased with how it went and although a little stiff now, I will enjoy a few beers later!! I was very good when I got home and even managed to work out how to switch the washing machine on to clean the kit. I was so looking forward to a nice hot bath but after jumping enthusiatically into a nice deep bath, I found that my 16 year old son had used all the hot water doing whatever he does in the shower for half an hour. So after 2 minutes in lukewarm water I was out again. A bit more post race preparation for next time I think.
Bring on the Manx Mountain Marathon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Training going well.

Things have gone pretty well so far this week and I have done some training every day. I have been out running around Archallagan plantation on both Monday and Wednesday with my wife. Monday was bitterly cold but that made the ground hard so it was OK to run on until I hit the odd patch of ice on the slopes. Wednesday was snowing and I had trouble getting the car up the road to the plantation. Once there however, it was excellent running on the fresh snow. At the end, Sally did some stretches before getting in the car; however I put my time to some practical use by making a snowman.

On Tuesday, I went to the race walking at the NSC but it was difficult to walk in the strong winds. Last night was a trip up to Ramsey on the coast road for round four of the Fireman’s runs. I set off at a blistering pace on the first lap and regretted it on the second and third lap but managed to hang on to get a new P.B.!

It’s a rest day for me today but tomorrow I’m off to Greeba for the fell race. My wife has done a fair bit of fell running in the past and always turned up fully equipped with amongst other things, a map, compass and whistle. After about a year of fell running she asked me to teach her how to read the map and use the compass! Luckily she has a good sense of direction. I see that rain and fog is forecast so hopefully my skills with a compass and map are up to scratch, otherwise I will look a right pratt if I get lost.

I have got some time off in the days next week so I will be able to get out and do a bit more walking rather than all the running that I have been up to recently.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's all in the preparation.

After my training on Thursday, I was a bit stiff on Friday and also busy with work so decided to have a rest day on the assumption that the winter walking league would be cancelled this weekend so I could do some exercise on Saturday. However, the roads around Ronaldsway industrial estate were clear and so the race was due to go ahead, hence Saturday became a rest day too in preparation for the race.
Now my pre-race preparation probably needs a little fine tuning but generally follows a similar pattern. The day before the race is a rest day so I don't do any exercise. The night before the race, I usually head to Douglas for a couple of pints and then return home for some food and a nice bottle of wine. To calm the nerves before bed, a little whisky usually helps although this week, I tried without the whisky. On the morning of the race, I wake up late and head off in a rush, usually forgetting various items (on this occasion it was a drink and race number).
Despite the cold weather, there was an excellent turnout for the race. As always, the race was well organised thanks to all the judges, marshall's and helpers both on the day and prior to the event who had been out checking out the course. For me the race went well and I got a new p.b. time for a 10k race so something must be going right with my training! With my new found speed, I hope to walk each day for the next couple of days and then if possible, head up to Ramsey on Thursday for the rearranged fireman's run.
Mention of salads in my last entry got me thinking. If anybody has decided to lose some weight as a New Years Resolution, can I recommend Greens restaurant in Douglas by the railway for a lunchtime meal. I believe that if you order a salad bowl, its possible to actually burn more calories chewing the food than is consumed during the meal.
Only 166 days to go now till the big day. It still seems a long way away but time is ticking on - take my advice, preparation is the key.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back on track.

I decided to weigh myself a couple of days ago and identified the reason why all my clothes had started to get smaller. Enough of this binge eating and drinking over the festive period, my days of salad dodging are behind me. Despite the weather, I have started to put in some serious training to get my plans of turning myself into an elite international athlete back on track. Having checked out the weather forecast, I realised that the snow and ice is going to be around for some time, so I went for an eight mile run yesterday.
During the run, I learnt quite a bit about running in the snow so I will pass on my wisdom for anyone planning on walking or running in the next few days. There are basically two types of snow, white crunchy snow which is actually reasonably grippy and then there's clear, shiny, reflective stuff that resembles the surface of the sure skate rink - this is ice and is especially good for making you fall over (there is a third type - yellow snow but your mum will have warned you about that). Ice 'hot spots' can be found on the prom, at the bottom of Broadway and down Royal Avenue.
At lunchtime today, I went for my first off road run in my sparkling new fell shoes. I drove up to the Clypse reservoir and ran up to the Creg ny Baa back road and then round the Conrhenny plantation and back. The scenery was fantastic with the snow but I never thought of taking my camera. The running was good too, a particular highlight was when my feet plunged into ice cold water after penetrating the sheet ice on top. I now know what I have been missing out on. My wife, who is a reasonably experienced fell runner came along too. Although I don't profess to be an expert after my first 'fell run', I like to think towards the end of the run that I gave her a few useful pointers as to how she could improve.
Not one to rest on my laurels and with time on my hands I went out for a walk this evening. It's the first walk that I have done for a couple of weeks so it was good to get back to it. I think with all this excellent training I'm off for a couple of beers and a salad.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back on the rock.

We returned back from the holidays yesterday. Unfortunately, I haven't done a great deal of training. I went for a couple more runs of about 4 or 5 miles each. The first one was on a freezing cold morning when I didn't feel like going, Sally had to really shout at me to get out of bed. I sneaked back under the covers for warmth whilst Sally performed her daily bathroom ritual prior to the run.

The second one was in the dark on the ice with a torch so I'm not sure how much benefit I gained from that. I think now with the turn of the New Year, I plan to increase my training. However, my plans of going for a 10 mile walk today have been thwarted by the snow - Ahhh the best laid plans....!

I am planning to run the Ramsey Firemans run on Thursday but I think that will be dependent on the weather as will the Winter Walking league on Sunday as I think that the cold weather is forecast to stay.
My New Year resolution is to finish the Parish Walk this year. I have got plenty of things to motivate me to train and get round this year. Firstly, there's the disappointment of not getting further on the Parish Walk last year. Then there is this Blog to keep me motivated (more time training and less time writing about training might be usefull!). I am also going to enter the team event (we are 3 quarters of the way to getting the team together - myself and 2 legends of the sport!) so the responsibilty of finishing will weigh heavily on my shoulders. There will be other things to motivate me too.
I need to have a go at running off road in the next few days if I'm going to enter the Manx Mountain Marathon but right now, I'm off for a snowball fight.