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!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Apologies for the break in blogging - I'm back now!

Well it's been a very busy three weeks for me and I'm using that as a very valid excuse for not posting any blogs for a while.

I left my job in Douglas on 17th April, went on holiday to Wales for a week on the 18th April returning to the Isle of Man on 25th April and then moved from Douglas to Ramsey at 9am on 26th April. Since then I've been working hard to get my house in order in time for me to start my new job in Ramsey on 6th May. I can now report that I am totally settled in my new house, all that's left is a trip to the local tip - which is a very nice, new tip - and then I'm done.

Unfortunately because I've been so busy with other things for three weeks the last walk I did was the Sara Killey. It's now time to get back on the road and continue with my Parish Walk training. Only 7 weeks to go which means that there is only 5 weeks of serious training left. I write the last sentence with little butterflies flitting around in my stomach.

However, although I haven't been doing any training I did a fair amount of walking in Wales with the dogs. The photos below are taken on the trails around Llanberis.

Then I moved heavy furniture from one place to another in my house at least 4 times until I was happy and I took all the weeds out of the garden and turned over the soil - that used muscles I didn't know I had.

Yesterday and today I ran 5 miles, but tomorrow I will be heading off to Glen Mona via Maughold and then back home. I think it's about 10 miles.

All the usual worries are now starting to surface
- am I fit enough?
- have I done enough training?
- have I planned for the day?
- food?
- drink?
- supplements?

I bought a new pair of shoes on Wednesday, they feel fantastic but I haven't actually walked in them yet. Question is - do I wear them to do the Parish. I suppose I still have 5 weeks to wear them in. For all the shoe experts out there they are Brooks Glycerin 11.

Train hard for the next 5 weeks and then take it relatively easy for the next 2 weeks. Plan and prepare and hopefully all will go as expected.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sara Killey 2014 - Ticked!

Sunday April 13th 2014 was the Sara Killey Firefighters walk from Peel to Ramsey via Ballaugh, Jurby, Bride and Andreas. A total of 50km (just over 31 miles).

The turnout was good, a lot of the usual faces and a few very welcome new ones.
The weather was almost perfect. There was a strong headwind from Bride onwards, but otherwise it was a sunny and cool day (although I did hear a few complaints about the heat!)

My co-blogger, Richard Wild, led the race out of Peel but soon disappeared out of my sight. For the first 20 miles I managed to hold onto the position of 2nd / 3rd lady, constantly jostling with Jane Foster but coming into Bride Maureen Moffat passed me with relative ease. This was not unexpected! I was tiring and Maureen had much more stamina than I did.

I kept my position of 3rd lady for a few more miles but knew that Karen Lawrie and Sammy Bowden were hot on my heels. They overtook me in Andreas - also not really unexpected. I really need to work on my fitness!

With 5 miles to go Jane once again caught up with me but this time we walked together in relative silence, just concentrating on keeping up the speed for a sub-6 hour finish. 

We finished in tied 5th position in a time of 5:56:17.

A special thanks to Brian for supporting me once again. Without the constant supply of water, supplements, food and encouragement I would never have finished in the time I did.

Also thanks to Jane Foster for keeping me focused throughout the race, but especially the final 5 miles. I very seldom walk with anyone else but our speed was so similar for the full 50km that it just made sense to spur each other on.

Congratulations to all who took part in the Sara Killey and thanks to all who supported the race.
Congratulations to Richard and Karen, our 2014 winners.

Monday, 7 April 2014

A Little Bit of a Rest

During the last week I have done very few miles at a very gentle pace. The reasoning behind this is to try to rest my injured foot and to give my body some rest before the Sara Killey. Normally I would only rest the week before but this year my body has been given almost a full two weeks.

So this Sunday is the Sara Killey race from Peel fire station to Ramsey fire station - 50km in total. I'm hoping for a similar time to last year which was 5:56. For some reason I don't feel as fit as I was last year, but this could just be because I'm getting harder on myself and expect more each year. Only time will tell.

2013 was a busy walking year for me. As well as doing all the shorter race walks I also did the Sara Killey in April, the Parish Walk in June, the 100 Mile walk in August and the End to End in September. 


It was a chilly start, there was still a bit of snow around on parts of the course, but after a couple of miles I was nicely warmed up and enjoying the walk. 

The Sara is a perfect training walk for the Parish as it follows the Parish route and is fairly flat.

For the majority of the distance I was 3rd lady but I could hear the crowd behind me talking all the way. This constant chatter kept me motivated in keeping ahead. However just as I left Andreas Karen Lawrie came alongside me. She chatted to me for a couple of minutes and then effortlessly left me behind! I tried to keep up with her but there was no way my legs would go that speed so I settled for a respectable 4th place behind Sue Biggart, Maureen Moffat (joint 1st) and Karen (3rd). 

I'm really looking forward to Sunday's race, although I can feel the nerves starting to kick in whenever I think about it. Nerves are apparently good - they turn into adrenaline on the day!

Good luck to all those taking part and loads of thanks to all those supporting on the roads and in the cars.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A Trying Two Weeks

Well if you've been following my blogs you will probably have noticed that I have been posting every week like clockwork but I missed posting last week.
These last two weeks have been busy, difficult, trying but eventually eventful!
I have a new job and a new house. I have resigned from my old job and handed in notice on my current house.
Doing two of the most stressful things a person can do is not always good for training but I have managed to get out for a couple of longish (15 mile) walks and a few short, fast 5 mile walks. I have also been on the treadmill a couple of times and done 3 days of Insanity workouts. So I have managed to keep the fitness up as well as the stress levels!
Once I move I believe my stress will all be gone as this is the view from the front window of my new house. Ramsey here I come!!
More good news is that we now have an extra hour of daylight. No more "I don't feel like going out in the dark" excuses.
With only two weeks to go before the Sara Killey I am feeling that my enthusiasm to train is waning a little and I need something to kick-start me again. Sometimes I almost feel like I'm forcing myself out the front door, but every time I go out I thoroughly enjoy the training!
Injury is also rearing it's ugly head again. All winter the tendons in my right foot have been fine, but as the weather is warming up my tendons are aching more and more.
Yesterday evening I did a relatively slow 10.5 mile walk but today my foot is swollen and the tendons are very pronounced. This seems to be a repeat of last year's injury, but this year I'm more aware of it and will get it treated as soon as possible.
It's less than 12 weeks to the Parish Walk so this is not the time to "lose the mojo" and not the time to get injured.
My tip of the day: Keep up the training and try to stay injury free. With only 10 weeks serious training left make the most of the time.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Mind Willing, Body - Not Really!

After work I try to get out for a short, fast walk at least twice (preferable three times) a week. I have a standard route which takes me just over an hour and incorporates uphill's and one big downhill. Last week I made a promise to myself that I was going to cut the time to just below an hour by the end of the month. Thursday I did it in 62 minutes, Friday I did it in 59 minutes 17 seconds! It just shows you what determination and an achievable goal can do.
Saturday - rest day and coffee with the girls (all afternoon!)
Sunday - 15 miles along the prom, Groudle and then back up through Onchan and past the grandstand. My legs felt like they were made of pure lead. I still managed a respectable time but it was hard-going and the last couple of miles were very, very long miles. It's on walks like that one that I wonder how I could possibly manage over 5 times that distance. However, having the occasional walk where you really have to work hard makes the sense of achievement so much stronger and the next one so much easier.
Last week I left Parish Walk 2012 with bleeding hands in Laxey.
I did get up (or was picked up) and carried on. There was never an option to stop at this point. My hands were too cold to feel too much pain anyway and I hadn't damaged any other body parts, so soldier on it was.
I think that Brian was starting to get really tired by this point as he was counting down the miles and the minutes to the end. He was encouraging me to pick up speed on the final leg of our journey. I have to say that I have lots of respect for the people who do the support for the full distance. It's not easy driving slowly along the route, getting in and out of the car every mile or so. I think that walking is probably the easier option!
Lonan Parish came and went without a hitch, although why the church is up the top of such a steep hill is anyone's guess.
Onchan Parish came and went without a hitch, but the church is at the bottom of a hill which you need to climb to get back up to the main road. When I dibbed in at Onchan the marshall there checked his watch and told me that if I hurried I would still finish in under 20 hours. I didn't need any further encouragement, I thanked him for spending his evening, night and early morning dibbing in the Parish Walkers and continued on my "merry" way.
By the time I got onto the prom - only a mile to go - I was desperate for a pee! There was just no way I was going to make another mile so I had to stop. Unfortunately this is where Tony Mackintosh overtook me. I went from position 46 to 47 because of a full bladder.
Back on the prom again and I was about 20 yards from the war memorial when I spotted Michelle Turner. I looked at my watch it was 3:49am (19 hours and 49 minutes walking time). I had 11 minutes to walk 20 yards but I still told Michelle that I thought I wasn't going to make it!
19 hours 50 minutes and 11 seconds was my official time. 47th finisher overall and 11th lady to finish. Those are numbers I will always remember!
Tony was waiting for me at the end to thank me for having to stop as he had been chasing me for quite a while and didn't think he was going to be able to catch me. We have been good friends ever since!
My tip of the day - whatever distance you aim to get to in the Parish Walk believe you can do it, put the training in and make it happen.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Track vs Road Walking

Yesterday I did the unspeakable, unthinkable act of resigning halfway through a 10km track race, and not just any race but the Ascot Open.
When I arrived at the track my heart and soul were not in the race, looking back now I know that I shouldn't have even started in that frame of mind. But I did start and was doing a reasonably good time (for me) of 29:56 for the first 5km but then I got a yellow card for contact and it just threw me. For the time being I have decided to dedicate my time to road walking.
Ever since doing 100 miles around the NSC I have had a mental block against going around the track one more time. It doesn't make much sense to me, but there you have it. That's why I have temporarily (or maybe not) decided to retire from track racing.
So to pay penance for my stupidity for not continuing for the 2nd half of the race on Saturday I decided to catch the early morning bus to Ramsey and walk home to Douglas on Sunday. In total it was a distance of 15.8 miles done in 3 hours and 6 minutes. I enjoyed every minute of it, even the section where the wind was blowing a hooley, which wasn't forecast on Accuweather!
This brings me to the penultimate section of the 2012 Parish Walk from Glen Mona to Laxey.
Now that I knew I was on time for a sub-20 hour race I suddenly had a bit more spring in my step - as much as you can have after walking for 70 miles.
Michelle Turner was at the car park at Dhoon offering her support. The main highlights of my walk were all my friends who were out at various locations supporting. Without the supporters the walk would hardly be worth doing! It was at this point that Brian gave me a cup of coffee. The coffee spilt over my gloved hands and I immediately dropped it accusing Brian of trying to burn me. It was scalding hot - or so I thought - to this day he still insists that the coffee was hardly lukewarm. Brian realised then exactly how cold I was. I wasn't feeling the cold until he firmly suggested that I put on a heavier coat. Once I had the coat on and I started to defrost I started to move a little faster and feel a little more human.
The trip between Dhoon and Laxey is much longer on the evening of the Parish Walk than it is any other day of the year. I remember thinking that someone had moved Laxey Service Station. When I reached the tram lines going over the road at Laxey Brian was handing me a banana, insisting that I needed to eat something. But I wasn't watching my footing and tripped over the pavement. Because I had very little energy left I dropped like a stone, but Brian immediately lifted me onto my feet and told me to carry on!! There was another support car over the road and the gentleman in the car crossed over to Brian and said "That's a shame, she was doing so well" to which Brian replied "she's still doing well and will finish". That's the kind of support everybody needs. He believed in me even when I was cold, tired and my hands were bleeding!
My tip of the day - warn your support that you may get unreasonable at least once during the walk!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Is it enough training?

I keep reading the other blogs and thinking "am I doing enough training?" I think this may be a common thought amongst the walkers who are preparing to go the full 85 miles. How much is enough? Personally I try to do 3 shorter (5 mileish) walks during the week and a 15 - 20 mile walk over the weekend.
I usually go to college on a Tuesday night but this Tuesday I excused myself and attended Strictly Parish. I believe that no matter how many times you have taken part in the Parish Walk, regardless of how far you walked, you can always learn something from someone at a forum like this. There were lots of hints and tips to be taken away and thought about but one thing I felt really stood out was "PLANNING". Plan your training, plan your food, plan your drink, plan your support, plan your strategy to get to your finishing point, plan your clothing, plan your foot preparation. Really good advice for every walker out there.
I was out training on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening after work, I felt really sluggish and battled to get up a good, consistent pace. I was feeling frustrated because I knew I could do better. On Saturday morning I went out thinking it was going to be another difficult session but I felt great, I picked up the pace almost immediately and kept it up all the way. Maybe I'm just a morning person!
Back to 2012 and Lezayre - I had almost 10 hours to complete 23.5 miles, this was probably the point that I knew I could finish and I was feeling quite strong. This was also the point where my body decided that it could no longer stomach solid food. I was given a Nutri Grain bar in Ramsey but I carried it all the way to Maughold almost untouched. From Ramsey to Maughold church seemed an eternity, I can't lie - it's a long, dark road when you've already covered 64 miles.
From Peel to Maughold Brian had been waiting a mile ahead of me, seeing if I needed anything and then driving on another mile. From Maughold he decided to cut the distance to half a mile, I was tired, cold, wet but nevertheless determined to carry on. It's a hard walk from Maughold church up Ballajora and back to the main road, it was pouring down and it was like walking through a river with sticks floating all over the road, but I plodded on (yes "plodded"). I was so relieved to see the sign at the top of the hill saying Laxey and Douglas. I was on my way home!
When I got to Glen Mona my brain started to engage again. I was trying to calculate how long it would take me to finish. Alas, my brain was not all it used to be. For the life of me I couldn't work out how many miles I had to go. I figured I was reasonably close to a 20 hour finish - this was way faster than I could possibly have hoped for, maybe my calculations were way off. Next time I met up with Brian I asked him to work out my finishing time based on my current speed, which was around 4.5 miles/hour. He agreed, I was going to finish in under 20 hours.
My tip of the day - From Strictly Parish - start planning now, it's worth planning for.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Peel to Lezayre

Another successful week for training. 32 miles in total. I think I'm actually getting used to the wind and rain now. The weather has got no chance of stopping me, possibly 3 foot of snow or very icy conditions may slow me down!
Last week's blog took us to Peel in just over 7 hours - bang on schedule. This is where Brian, my support met me. For me it was just a little too late, I was very wet and hungry. I was so glad to see him and my sandwiches. Mental note to self - meet up a little earlier next year.
Walking into Peel 2012
My next target was to get from Peel to Lezayre in another 7 hours. I felt strong still and definitely had no desire to stop. I think I was actually enjoying the walk. Brian seemed to be enjoying the support role as well, he was meeting up with friends he hadn't seen for a few years. They had quite a while to chat whilst waiting for their respective walkers! Walking through Kirk Michael was great - groups of people at The Mitre have a list of walkers and their numbers, as you walk past they all call out your name like they're old friends! These are the little things that keep us going. Without supporters the Parish Walk would not be the same.
It seems a long way from Ballaugh Church to Andreas Church. It is actually 13 miles but it's a long, straight and relatively lonely road. Getting into Andreas was a pleasure, there was a party going on and people were cheering the walkers through. I remember dibbing in at Andreas but I have no recollection of dibbing at Bride, although I must have because my time was recorded! There are various points along the way that I don't have a clear memory of.
A fair amount of my training was done between Andreas and Ramsey so I was in very familiar territory now. I was eating at regular intervals, just small, frequent amounts to keep me going but not causing any discomfort. I was also drinking enough that I never felt dehydrated.
I dibbed in at Lezayre Church at 14 hrs 3 mins, less than 7 hours from Peel. Still on target with a comfortable amount of time left to finish the 23.5 miles left.
My tip of the day : stop trying to find excuses to train. Just get out and do it!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Future, Present and Past

The Future : 
25th February is Strictly Parish - this is being held at Keyll Darree, next to Nobles Hospital. This is a great forum to get all those questions you have answered and also some you never thought to ask. No matter how far you plan to go on the day there will be information available to help you get to your goals. There is more information on when and where this is being held on See you there!
Sunday 16th Feb 2014
The Present :
Wow what a lovely day to go for a walk today. Sunshine and more sunshine. No rain and very little wind. Dare I say it was even quite warm once I got going. Today I walked along the prom and past Groudle Glen to Liverpool Arms then past the grandstand before heading off home. A total of 15 miles on a sunny day.

Sunday 16th Feb 2014

What a difference from last week. Last Saturday I caught the bus to Dhoon and joined Steve and Tom Partington and Michelle Turner for some hill sprints. Afterwards I walked from Dhoon to Douglas in a strong headwind. Luckily I managed to get all the way to Douglas prom without getting wet. Unfortunately as I got onto the prom I was hit by a giant wave - totally drenched and freezing cold.
On Wednesday, despite many weather warnings I still decided to go out for a training walk. It turned out to be more of a run in some places. The gusts were just too much for me and I couldn't keep to walking, luckily I did manage to stay on my feet at all times (I'm not sure how!)
The Past :
Back to the start line in 2012. So many people had told me not to start off too fast as I was likely to burn out around Bride but the adrenaline and excitement had hit and I was keen to get out of the NSC and onto the road. The first section of my plan was to get to Peel in 7 hours. My training and my races are always timed by my Garmin watch, without it I'd be lost. I had worked out exactly how much time I had between Parishes and I had also worked out the speed I needed to go to achieve my goal to Peel.
The highlight of the first third of the walk was the hot sausages somewhere around the Blackboards!
I made it to Peel in 7hrs 6mins. I was very happy with that time, at this point I was well ahead of the cutoff time. I can now say that the Sloc is not as bad as everyone told me it would be!!!
My tip of the day : if it suits your style - plan as much as possible so that you know how you're doing throughout your walk.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Reasons for Entering

There must be as many reasons for entering the Parish Walk as there are people who enter!

My reason for entering the first time was because I was cajoled, begged, pleaded with and practically bribed by a friend. He wanted someone to walk with and someone who he believed was determined enough to finish it. So I agreed, reluctantly!

I decided if I was going to enter then I was definitely going to finish. My training started in January 2012 so I had 5 months to increase the fitness and find out what was required to get to the end. That also gave me 2 weeks to rest my weary bones before the day of the Parish Walk.
My training program was usually 3 x fast 5 mile walks during the week and a longer distance over the weekend, usually between 15 and 20 miles. Each time I went out I tried to better my time, so essentially I was racing against myself. All praise goes to my trusty Garmin watch!
I was advised to take it easy for 2 weeks before the Parish Walk but it was the longest 2 weeks ever. I was so used to doing all the training that taking 2 weeks rest seemed such a waste of time. I was so excited and nervous and terrified. The night before the Walk I hardly slept - not good when I knew I had to stay awake for the next 24 hours as well.
The big day arrived and my friend and I had arranged to meet at 7:30am at the NSC. Guess what - he didn't pitch up! I walked alone! I thoroughly enjoyed it (except for Maughold and Ballajora!). The photo opposite is at the start line, my number is 1641 and I look like I'm praying. I don't think I was, but I don't really remember much.
At this point I had no idea what to expect. I'd never walked at night before, much less walked through the day, through the night and into the next day. My 2012 plan was to finish in under 24 hours.
My tip of the day : if you really want to finish the Parish Walk then go all out to finish it. This means training your mind as well as your body to get to the end.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Time to Distance Train

So that just about cover the preparation for the Parish Walk!
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Supplements
  • Clothes
  • Head Torch
  • Hi Viz Clothes and Gear
  • Support
  • Supplements
  • Shoes
  • Feet Preparation
All that needs to be done is training and more training.
The weather hasn't been the best for getting out walking. I managed to get out after work this week and thoroughly enjoyed the walks. I have a new recruit, Kayleigh who is planning on doing the Parish Walk and determined to finish. I wish her the best of luck and hope to get out training with her on a regular basis. We aim to walk the route together over the next few weeks.
The Winter Walking League draws to a close today (Sunday 2nd February), so it's now time to concentrate on some serious distance training.
The Parish Walk Talk is scheduled for Tuesday 25th February so if you have any questions this is a good place to get them answered.
My tip of the day - try out food, drink, supplements and feet preparation on your training walks.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Please Support Me

As much as I love my adorable (most of the time) little Miniature Schnauzers sometimes I just wish they were dogs I could take on training walks with me!
I often see Karen Lawrie out walking with her dog, they walk miles together. Janice Quirk is another who trains with her canine companion. All my two want to do is sniff and pee! This makes time management so much more difficult - rush home from work, walk dogs, get home and change into training gear, go for a training walk, get home, shower, get dressed, feed dogs and me, take dogs for a quick walk around the block and bed. This is a typical day for me. Weekends are slightly more relaxed :)

Luckily I have fantastic support for the Parish Walk and I am looked after all day as well as not having to worry about my dogs. Support is an incredibly important part of the Parish Walk and without it I wouldn't be able to complete the full 85 miles.

The first year I decided to do the Parish Brian was soaking up as much information as he could possibly get on how best to get me to the end. One of the things that we soon learnt was very true is that after I reached somewhere around Andreas I would no longer be able to make decisions regarding food, drink and clothing as my brain would be as tired as my feet. This was so true as when I was handed a cup of coffee I immediately dropped it as it burnt my hands. It was at this point that Brian realised just how cold I was because the coffee was only just lukewarm! He made me put on another jacket and change my gloves and hat. It sounds a bit extreme but I honestly had no idea I was freezing cold and wet.

It was a bit of trial and error trying to decide exactly how far ahead Brian would park. The further into the walk I got the shorter the distance ahead he stopped. That seemed to work very well for me.
My tip of the day - If you can make it, take the time to go to the Parish Walk Talk on 25th February. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Shoes and Clothes

Last Sunday I headed out to Glen Mona again and walked to Lezayre church through Ramsey and back through Maughold, up Ballajora and back to Glen Mona. I heard the weather forecast before I left but decided that I still needed to go out. 
This is not me!
But a good representation of
how I must have looked!
The forecast stated rain in the afternoon and a gale force South Westerly wind. The forecast didn't lie. Going up towards Maughold church I must have been walking at a 45 degree angle to the road just to keep going forward. Despite gloves my hands were freezing. BUT.... the good news is I made it back to my car before I got hypothermia - probably a bit melodramatic, but once I got home it took my hands a good hour wrapped around a cup of coffee and in front of a heater before the feeling returned 100%.
Did I enjoy the walk? Yes, I enjoyed most of it but I was very happy to get back to the car, almost like getting to the war memorial after walking 85 miles!
Now to the title of the post - Shoes and Clothes - 
As I've mentioned before a gait analysis is a good idea before choosing shoes to walk 85 miles in. Shoes are possibly the most expensive part of the sport but definitely well worth the investment. A gait analysis will tell you if you have a neutral pronation (your foot rolls inward a small percentage and you push off evenly from the front of the foot), overpronation (your foot rolls inward a larger percentage and you push off mainly using the big toe and second toe) or underpronation (your foot rolls outward and you push off mainly using the smaller toes). Shoes can correct any over or under pronation that you may have.
When dressing for the Parish Walk remember that you're going to be walking in the same clothes for a long time so they need to be comfortable. Wearing brand new underwear isn't the best idea. A friend of mine was given new underwear for the "big day" - unfortunately this wasn't such a good present as they created a rash and an uncomfortable walk.

Be prepared for all types of weather. Layering is the best way to dress. The start could be a bit chilly or even wet but once you get going you should start to warm up. If you're planning to go to the end it will definitely get colder once the sun goes down so pack a warm jacket to wear later on. I always put a spare pair of socks and shoes in the car - just in case.

My Tip of the Day - If you plan to go any further than Peel make sure you have good support and talk to your support before the day, planning what you need when you need it.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Weather to walk (or not)

In my last post I had a comment from Karen, my sister in Australia saying - 

"I've been looking at the photos of the king tides on the IOM - you have to be dedicated (or crazy?) to walk in that kind of weather :)"
Taken from Karen's car in Oz on Jan 4 2014
Are we dedicated or crazy? Probably a bit of both, but if we didn't get out there in Manx weather then we'd end up spending half our days waiting for good weather. We can't be fair-weather walkers over here. However - I have to ask the question

           "How on earth do you play tennis in 45°C?"

This week I haven't been out walking at all but I haven't just been doing nothing. I decided to get out my Insanity DVDs and do a bit of shaping up. I have been told that doing Insanity is doing nothing for my walking but I disagree. The program increases overall fitness and flexibility so surely that has to be some help. I will find out today when I take to the road again for 15 miles.

During the buildup to Parish Walk 2012 I looked out for any related events and attended all of them. 

The Parish Walk Talk - a great forum led by all the people in the know - judges, coaches, organisers and previous winners. Not only do they give you as much information as they possibly can and any hints and tips on how to get as far as you possibly can, they also answer any questions you may have about training, food, drink, preparing feet, what to take with you on the day etc.

The Foot Health Clinic Talk held at Up and Running - A talk by Robin from The Foot Health Clinic about how best to avoid blisters, muscle strain and injuries during training and during the walk.

Parish Walk training - held by Chris Cale from Up and Running during the training weeks prior to the Parish Walk. Excellent tips on how best to handle the up hills and down hills of the Parish as well as general race walking and endurance walking training.

I think I drove people crazy with all my questions but nobody complained and I got tons of information - some of which I used and still do and some which wasn't for me. 

My tip of the day - make sure the shoes you have are correct for your feet, nothing will stop your progress quicker that sore feet!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2014!

The weather on Tuesday 31st December was not kind to me. I was determined to complete my 100 miles come rain, hail or snow, less of the complaining - the good news is I did it plus a bonus 4.7 miles for good measure!

Today was the Up and Running Winter Walking League at Ronaldsway. The first race of the new year and a good turnout. I think most people have their favourite races and their pet "dislikes". Ronaldsway is one of my dislikes. I think it stems back to when I was living in Ramsey and had to get up with the early birds to get to the start on time for registration. I was freezing and tired and I nearly missed the start of the race because I was sitting in my car drinking coffee. To top it all I left my Garmin in the car so had no idea of the speed or distance I had done. So really it has absolutely nothing to do with the place, more the memories!

In preparation for Parish Walk 2014 we cannot forget 

Drink and Supplements

Obviously water is important to anyone partaking in exercise, the body needs to be hydrated, but salts and minerals also need to be replaced. This is where supplements come in. 

When shopping for supplements I am far from an expert. I ask around to see what others have tried and what worked and what didn't. My personal favourites are Shot Bloks and Energy Gels, both need to be taken and then followed by water. As an additive to water Zero tablets are good for replacing electrolytes and magnesium

As it is now only 166 days to go (who's counting?!) it's time to start planning a training schedule. My main plan is to lose a bit of weight, get fitter, stay injury free (lots of stretching involved there) and most importantly - enjoy the training.

My tip of the day - ask around for help regarding any aspect of training or preparing for the walk that you are unsure of.