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.