Sunday, 29 June 2014

Post Parish - Lots of time to train for PW 2015

It's all over .... for those who are "hooked" we wait in anticipation for the entries for the next Parish Walk to open. We then wait for months to stand on the start line with some training thrown in for good measure. The week before the Parish Walk we start to get very, very nervous and apprehensive and wish we had more time to train and plan. We then complain about the weather for a fair amount of miles and then when we finish we can't wait for the next year!
I think that just about wraps up a lot of Parish Walkers!
June 21st 2014 saw plenty of sunshine, absolutely no rain and a little breeze. There were times I would have paid good money for a little rain or even a generous amount of cloud cover.
I have to admit that my overall race did not go to plan. I felt really strong up to Rushen but for the first time I really struggled up the Sloc. I have always enjoyed the Sloc and questioned why it has such a bad reputation with so many walkers. I don't think the heat beating down on me and the smouldering tarmac helped much. I even suffered walking downhill through Dalby. My heel blistered and this was to stay with me for the remainder of the walk.
I got to Peel in 6 hrs 47 mins. Five minutes over my 2013 time, I think this was the first time I realised there was no way I could get a PB. I was well hydrated at this point but I soon started to battle to eat and drink. Nothing tasted nice, not even plain water was going down well. From Ballaugh onwards I was pretty much walking on my own and really having to dig deep to keep pushing on.
The sun lost a lot of heat once I was on Lezayre Road and going into Ramsey I was feeling good again, especially seeing friends in The Swan. I knew once I got through Maughold I was on the home stretch so I pushed on and for once I went through Maughold without too much of a battle. The heat of the day had drained a lot of my energy and all I wanted was to see the war memorial! At 19:22:23 I was rewarded with a friendly group of people waiting for my dibber and to wrap me up in tin foil like a chicken!
Parish Walk 2014 was a long, hot day. Not the best walk I've ever done and not the most enjoyable but I never, ever thought "never again". My thoughts were always "next year I'll do better"!
Training has now started for the End to End. I went out for a short 5 mile walk yesterday and felt really good. The legs are still a little heavy so I'll build up the miles and speed slowly.
There were some amazing performances last Saturday. Janette Morgan led the crowd out of the NSC and kept up the fantastic pace for the full 85 miles to take the ladies race very convincingly. Richard Gerrard, the obvious favourite of the day certainly didn't disappoint. Dave Walker pleased the fans who had written his name in chalk most of the way to Peel by finishing 2nd followed by Richard Wild on his debut. The race may be very interesting in 2015.
Hopefully many more personal targets were met on the day and many of you will be waiting to sign up for next year's Parish Walk.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Good luck and Best Foot Forward

With only 5 days and a few hours left before we all meet on the start line at the NSC there isn't too much left to do except organise, plan and pack. I find packing for a 24 (hopefully less) hour walk around the Isle of Man more stressful than packing to go on a 3 week holiday abroad. So far this is what my packing looks like :-
Other than the above I'm hoping I'll get all my fresh food and drink into a cooler box. I will also have a lot of cold water and a couple of thermos flasks with coffee and soup.
I feel comforted by the fact that everybody else I speak to is also feeling the anxiety of not getting it right on the day. There are so many "what ifs" that cannot be answered until they happen.
I wish every single person who is taking part in this fantastic event the very best of luck. Fight through the fatigue and the pain and achieve your goal with pride and a huge smile!
To all the supporters along the streets or in cars - Thank You.
To everyone who has been involved in the organisation of the day - a MASSIVE Thank You.
To all the marshals who will be out on Saturday for long hours in unknown weather - Thank You.
This is my last blog until after the event and then hopefully I will be able to report success in completing my third Parish Walk in a row.
My tip for the day - take it easy this week, eat healthily and start the race feeling fresh and energetic.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Two Week Countdown

Well it's finally here. The last two weeks before the Parish Walk. The next two weeks bring about very mixed feelings. I want to go out and do some final long distance training but know it's not in my best interest. I feel nervous about the 85 mile walk coming up but can't wait. I constantly go through the training I could have done but haven't. I check through my list of things to do and things to pack before the walk. Have I got everything? What do I still need to buy? Are my designated trainers walked in enough? Have they got any hot spots where I'm likely to get blisters? etc. etc.

Yesterday I did a good paced 8 mile walk around Ramsey and today I will be heading up Maughold for the last time before the Parish. For the next two weeks I will do a couple of fairly relaxed 5 milers around Ramsey each week.

My fellow bloggers are each doing their own challenges this weekend. Jock is in Rotterdam doing 100 miles and Richard is in York doing a 20k race walk. I have no doubt both will excel in their races.

As promised I have my list of things to pack. If you feel I've left something off please feel free to leave me a comment, I'm sure there'll be plenty of room left in the car to pack more.

  • Avon Skin So Soft (to keep the bugs at bay)
  • Compeed plasters (never used them yet but always have them with me)
  • Sun screen
  • Hats (peak for the sun and warmer for the cooler night)
  • Gloves
  • Garmin watches (I need two because one only gets me to Maughold)
  • Race Number - very, very important
  • Dibber - also very, very important
  • Bib (to put number on, not for dribbling on)
  • Spare T-Shirt, socks, leggings, shoes
  • Heavy hi-viz yellow jacket
  • Light hi-viz yellow jacket (must always be visible regardless of the time of day)
  • Rain coat
  • Sandwiches (peanut butter, cheese spread, honey)
  • Gels, powders, Zero tablets, Shotbloks
  • Energy bars
  • Nutrigrain bars
  • Bananas (lots of them - Jock quoted 42)
  • Chocolate (you never know when you need a sugar rush!)
  • Jelly sweets
  • Smoothies (for when the solid food becomes too much)
  • Watermelon
  • Water (lots and lots)
  • Headlight (a must have if you're intending to walk after 10pm)
  • Front and Back lights (as above)
  • Reflective Bands
  • Coffee
  • Soup (also for when solid food becomes too much)
  • Mobile phone (only used in emergencies - never had to use it yet)
  • Waterless hand cleaner (the gels get really sticky if you spill any)
  • Wet wipes (for wiping away the sweat!)
  • Painkillers, Anti-inflammatories (keep to a minimum - only take if absolutely necessary)
  • Any other food that takes my fancy between now and then
  • Muscle oil

That's it!
My tip of the day - if you're not sure if you'll need it on the day - pack it.

The Start of Parish Walk 2013

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Less than three weeks to go and still positive

Well the title says it all. All of us who are going to be on the start line on the 21st June at 8am have less than three weeks to go. I hope the rest of you are as positive as I feel at the moment. Having done some good training this week, despite the difficulties faced with hundreds of bikes racing around the island, I am feeling DRIVEN!
Next weekend will be the last long training walk I will do before the day. I will do a few shorter distances and give my body a rest making sure I don't get any last minute injuries. Good advice that anybody who has done any endurance event will give you.
Tonight I will be sitting down with a pen and paper to write a list of things I need to pack in my support car to make sure that I have everything that I could possibly want during the 85 miles. Once I have the list written I will share on my blog so that you can check it against your list. This is not to say that your list should be the same as mine but I may have something that you had forgotten or not thought of.
I'd like to wish all my friends who are off to Rotterdam to do the European Centurion Walk the very best of luck and I hope all the training pays off.
100 miles is "only" 15 miles further than the Parish Walk but, having done the race in August last year at the NSC it is a very, very long 15 miles further than the Parish! The boredom that sets in after the first 30 laps of a ½ mile track is mind-numbing. Going around the same track 200 times was a test of mental capability as well a physical capability. I joked about count the leaves on the trees but it was hardly a joke, there isn't much else to do. I looked forward to the dark setting in just for a change in scenery. I take my hat off to all the supporters, especially those who stayed for the full 24 hours. That was incredible staying power.
The Parish Walk is also very different from the 100 miles in that if you are going the full 85 miles you may find yourself walking alone for long distances, but walking around the NSC track you are never alone. This is probably a good thing, although I felt abandoned when the various people I walked with dropped out - you know who you are! When someone you've walked with for 30 miles suddenly decided that this isn't for him/her, it is so difficult to keep motivated.
I've just been reading Jock's latest blog and would like to say that I completely agree with him regarding deciding how far you're planning to go. If you say you're going to walk as far as you can then you will probably stop when you get tired. Believe me every single person who goes the full distance has reached the stage of being tired long before they reach the end. The body and mind are amazing because you can actually move through the tiredness and get a 2nd (and 3rd, 4th.... ) breath. You can hit the proverbial brick wall (most do) and get through it. Set a realistic goal for your personal fitness level and try to stick to it, push through the tiredness, the aches and pains (obviously stop if you are injured) and the brick wall. You will have an amazing sense of achievement when you reach your destination that you will not regret any of it. DIG DEEPER!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Only 4 weeks and 3 days to go - Are you in it?

Parish Walk 2014 entries have now closed so if you haven't entered you aren't going to take part in one of the best supported days on the Isle of Man.
Leaving the NSC together with over 1000 other walkers, the streets are lined with supporters. It's so nice to be cheered on as you walk towards Marown Church. The road to the first Parish is closed to vehicles so it is the ideal opportunity to chat with other walkers along the way. The one question you are sure to be asked is "How far are you going?" I wonder how many people actually reach their goal or possibly even go further than their goal. If you've been training with a goal in mind of less than 85 miles you may be surprised that on the day you can walk further. The excitement, company and adrenaline all help to keep you going when you thought that you wouldn't be able to.
Four weeks before last year's Parish Walk I wasn't sure I was going to be on the start line. I was advised not to do it because I could seriously damage my tendon by walking 85 miles but I was determined. My plan was to take it easy and aim to finish within the required 24 hours - but when I got to the start line and the countdown began my competitive side took over and I didn't think too much about my injury for the rest of the day!
I had done a lot of serious training because my 2013 plan was to do the Sara Killey, Parish Walk, 100 Mile and the End to End. I had considered finishing the Parish Walk in Peel to save my legs for the 100 Mile walk in August but I kept thinking that if I didn't finish the Parish and I failed to finish the 100 Mile then I wouldn't have achieved either goal. So I decided that I would still aim to complete the Parish Walk and see how I did in the 100 Mile, even though the latter was priority as it isn't often held on the island.
The Sara Killey was a huge success for me. I finished as 4th lady in under 6 hours - to plan.
The Parish Walk went much better than planned. It was a very warm day and I started to feel dehydrated in Patrick. I slowed down for a while and started to drink much more than I had been and soon started to feel a lot better. It is so important not to dehydrate, it can easily end your walk prematurely. I reached Peel in 6hr 42mins, my aim was 7 hours so I was well ahead of time. From Peel to Andreas seemed to pass relatively quickly as I was constantly walking with various different characters along the way. In Bride I met up with Bernadette from South Africa. She was going through a really bad patch and was possibly also suffering with the boredom of walking alone from Jurby to Andreas. We walked together to Andreas Church where she stopped for a while for something to eat. I carried on alone and remained mostly alone for the rest of the walk. Once again I hit a very thick, solid brick wall in Maughold. A cyclist came past me and asked if I was OK. I was going to ask him to catch up with my support vehicle and get him to come back with food and water as I was feeling a little dizzy, but alas the cyclist said I was looking good and disappeared into the distance! Somehow I managed to get to Maughold Church and then up Ballajora and back onto the main road. This is where I realise that I don't have too much further to go and my body decides that the best way to get to the end is as quickly as possible. By this time Brian (support) is also saying that he's tired and I should speed up - nothing like encouragement!
Parish Walk 2013 - finished in 18:24:31 in 28th position and 7th lady - happy with the result.
Meet Zachary - the new addition to my family. He's a 12 week old Miniature Schnauzer.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Northern 10 Win - Dedicated to Quando

The Northern 10 Walk and Run was held on Sunday 11th May. It was a perfect day for a race with the weather mostly cool and dry with the occasional hot spot, especially coming back into Ramsey on the Jurby Road.
My 12 year old Miniature Schnauzer, Quando had been suffering with a congenital heart disease for the past 18 months but on Saturday night he could no longer keep his food and water down. I left home on Sunday morning knowing that I had a very poorly dog. I dropped him off at the vet on Monday morning and unfortunately he wasn't strong enough to fight whatever infection he had picked up. Sadly he passed away on Tuesday evening.

I dedicate my win of the Northern 10 Ladies Walk to my best friend Quando. He will live on in my heart forever. We always know that when we get a pet the chances are good that we will outlive them. It certainly doesn't make saying goodbye any easier. I will always miss him. Rest in Peace my little man.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

I Really Missed Training

I am now well and truly back.
Just been from Ramsey to Maughold church, up Ballajora and back to Ramsey along the coast road. A total of 9 miles in 1:43. I enjoyed every minute (well maybe not EVERY - I still have a small issue with Ballajora!), but it felt great to be back on the road after 3 weeks break.
While I was walking today I was really thinking about how I was getting from A to B. This may sound a little strange but race walking and endurance walking is not all about putting one foot in front of the other. Every part of the body gets involved.
The mind - a major part of endurance walking. Determination and planning can get you the extra distance when you think your legs won't. It also helps me to let my mind wander sometimes to take me away from the constant pounding of the road. Try not to dwell on how tired you feel or how much pain you may be in at the time. Think of how good you'll feel when you get to your destination.
Head - try not to drop your head, keep looking ahead of you and not at your shoes.
Shoulders - keep them relaxed, there should be no reason to have them hunched up and getting achy and sore.
Back - keep it as straight as possible, this goes together with the head. Keep looking ahead and keep your back straight.
Arms - your arms can help you more than you think. Keeping your arms bent at around 90 degrees at waist height pushing back will keep your legs going. Instead of concentrating on how tired your legs are start concentrating on pushing yourself forward using your arms.
Hands - don't make a tight fist as you pump your arms, just keep your fingers slightly bent and nicely relaxed.
Legs - yes they do work hard but help them as much as you can with the rest of the body.
Feet - make sure you prepare your feet well before you go out walking. They are after all going to get you to the end of the walk!