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.