Sunday, 26 February 2017

Change of Plan

I had planned to compete yesterday (Saturday) on the Manx Harriers organised Open 10 / 20k Walks and Run held at the National sports Centre. After completing the new bathroom ceiling task I had started on Thursday I settled down on Friday evening and made the decision I was not going to race. my Achilles had been sore after a gruesome massage on Thursday and although I was confident I could walk the distance I wasn't sure I could maintain the pace over 20k. I had PB'd last time out on the final round of the winter league but the last 1600 meters of that race I had felt my calf and in turn my Achilles tightening. I still wanted to do something so contacted Richard to see if he was still planning on taking part in the 10K run being held after the 20k walk. It turned out he had decided to give it a miss also so we agreed to meet at the NSC as usual for a Saturday morning stroll. The weather on waking was wet and windy to say the least but within 30 minutes it had improved and by the time I had got to Douglas the rain had stopped. We headed for a lap of Baldwin which is normally quite sheltered but decided to carry on further as the weather improved. just short of 18 miles were covered by the time we returned to the NSC. My ankle was no worse than when I started and of course I will never know if it would have been the same had I taken part in the race.

History was made on the 20k walk in that the event was won for the first time by a Female. Hannah Hunter completed the distance in a time of 1:47:18 2nd place went to Erika Kelly 17 seconds slower but still a massively impressive time. I see Hannah training most days  between Peel and Douglas, the effort and commitment she puts in makes this result much deserved. The same has to be said for Erika who started her journey into race walking not long after myself in 2014 attending coaching sessions with Bridget Kaneen on a Saturday morning in Peel

Hannah and Erika 1st and 2nd overall

Tuesday the 28th February sees the annual Parish Talk. It’s being held at Keyll Darree Education and Training Centre near to Noble’s Hospital. Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start. Entry is free, and tea, coffee and biscuits will be served. The event will last around an hour and a half.

Friday, 24 February 2017

What Day Is It!

I have started writing this during my last night shift of this cycle (01.26) and already I am struggling to remember what I have done training wise earlier in the week. I know I was definitely out on Tuesday night as usual but for the life of me can not remember Monday evenings training if any. Nights seem to have that effect on me. Wednesday I must of premeditated the weather to come on Thursday and walked with Sam Fletcher who is getting back into his training after an elongated break. Sam decided around late November to take some time out and come back fresh in the new year, unfortunately, his wife Laura became ill and training, not surprisingly, took another knock. Sam, over the last couple of years, has been a strong competitor finishing 2nd last year to Richard Gerrard on the Ramsey Bakery End to End walk and winning the Fire fighters memorial walk back in April. He was also set for a really good finish on the 2016 Parish Walk before suffering a hamstring injury on the way out of the Maughold loop which ultimately saw him retire from the race whilst in 7th position.

As mentioned the weather on Thursday was awful with damage caused to property, tree felling and flooding in some places. Richard Wild was still keen enough to put the group message out to see if anyone was training at 17.30 as usual. One or two had legitimate excuses why they wouldn't be turning up, I played the work card and chickened out turning my hand instead to a little D.I.Y job that turned out as equally bad as a walk in the wind and pissing rain would have. In fact, if I'm honest, I think the walk would have turned out better! Once finished here in the morning I will grab a couple of hours kip and start the task over. The one good thing about completing a set of nights is I am now off for the next 9 days, returning to work a week on Monday, by then we will already be 6 days into March with only 47 days until the 2017 Firefighters memorial walk.

Peel Breakwater and Lighthouse is in there somewhere.

I have entered the Manx Harriers Open 20k Walk  tomorrow so will have to only get slightly drunk tonight and steer away from a fish supper on the way home. Saturday night however will be a totally different affair with much drinking and eating if only to celebrate the end of another week of working nights!!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Well Done Julie!

I will start this week’s Blog by congratulating Julie Barlow on winning the 2016 / 17 Winter walking league. Julie has shown consistent improvement and was overall victor in the 10km league with a clear margin over Stewart Jones and last year’s winner Tony Edwards. Although not racing last weekend Dale Farquhar has set some massively impressive times this series along with Gianni Epifani who went just under 49 minutes last Sunday.

Compared to last week the miles have been quite low. I didn't walk on Monday due to being on an evening shift at work but managed to swap Tuesdays evening to a day shift so I could get out that evening. Wednesday again was an evening shift so again work got in the way of training. Being on evenings does mean I have the mornings free so there really is no excuse other than Christine is home most mornings as she does not need to be at work till after lunch, so spending time with her either shopping, carrying out D.I.Y duties or just nipping down to the local cafĂ© for coffee is the best excuse I can come up with.

 Thursday night was spent with a few work colleagues at the Hooded Ram in Douglas for a curry and drinks so my usual Thursday evening blast around Douglas was moved over to Friday morning, Dave had asked the question on Thursday evening if anyone fancied walking Friday a.m. so it made the decision a lot easier to leave the pub when I was offered a lift back to Peel, at a rather early time of 21.30, knowing I had planned to walk the next morning.

 I started my set of nights on Friday / Saturday morning for the next 7 days so the usual arrangement of leaving work and meeting up with the group at the NSC was arranged. The route in the end saw us back in Douglas after covering 16 miles , so that and the 13 miles covered the morning before, have ended the week well with the possibility of a few more miles on Sunday being gained.

 The weeks already since New Year seem to be flying past with the last round of the winter league now gone and the Open Meeting at the NSC only a week away. Interest in the Firefighters Memorial Walk seems to be building rapidly with the first 39 entries already in. The inclusion of the 20 mile event, finishing at Bride church, for those 17 years and over, will hopefully tempt more people to take part in what is a great event.

 Before work on Friday I watched a program on ITV filmed on the Isle of Man called Britain's Best Walks it took in three routes, Dhoon Glen, Laxey and Snaefell if you did not catch it its really worth a watch, if only like me, you need reminding every so often just how lucky we are to live on this fantastic Island. The Race the Sun event gives the opportunity to see what the Island has to offer whilst running along the coastal paths of the island starting and finishing in Peel  I have chosen to do the first leg across Peel headland to White Strand before taking in a short section of road and turning on to the old railway line at Knocksharry Stop, Glen Mooar, Glen Wyllin and finishing at Ballaugh beach car park where I will hand the timing chip over to are second team member Dale Farquhar who will carry on over the beach and dunes via Blue Point and Smeale as far as the most Northern point at the Point of Ayre. I will need to plan between now and May some familiarisation walks / runs of the route before setting off on the day. I’m fairly confident but there is a section just after Bishops Court, following the old railway line, where you turn to head down onto the beach so I really need to be sure where this is so as not to run past. Luckily Christine works at Penny Bridge equestrian centre in Kirk Michael and hacks out along the old line most weeks so has a fairly good idea where I need to turn off, but more importantly, she can collect me from Ballaugh beach to save me having to walk back or try logistically to leave a car there so I have my own transport back home. I am hopeful the Achilles issue will be resolved by then, it was pain free racing last Sunday but has niggled a bit this week when training just enough to remind me it’s still there. I have another session of friction massage planned for next week, although painful I really do feel the effort both Bronwyn and Jorel are putting in is starting to pay off, I am also going to order some ankle supports next week to try.

 If you have not entered next weekend’s Open Meeting at the NSC but you could spare a couple of hours on Saturday I know Bridget Kaneen and the rest of the organisation team would appreciate any help with lap counting, marshalling or even tea making on the day. Bridget can be contacted on 497594 if you can help out.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A Good Week

The idea this week was to train each evening, however, Monday was really poor weather wise so I decided not to bother. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were better weather although bloody cold but I managed to get the normal 7 or 8 miles in each evening. Pete Miller joined us on Thursday and is starting to show how capable he is of securing a massive PB on this years Manx Telecom Parish Walk. Michael George also made it out for a stroll this week and seemingly does not loose any speed at all. I'm quite sure he could just kick on and leave the rest of us if he so desired, the same could be said for Richard Gerrard and Dave Walker.

I popped into The Creek on Friday to see a mate regarding some building work, it was only supposed to be a quick visit but ended up being a slightly elongated affair ending in The Royal 3 or 4 hours later. I had taken the day off on Saturday so I could make the Saturday morning walk so I was mindful of having to drive first thing otherwise I may of stayed out for the night. unfortunately going home early meant I missed Little Miss Dynamite in the creek later on. Michael George and his wife Irene, herself a Parish Walk finisher in a time of 22hrs 05mins 32secs, had made the Journey through from Douglas for the evening so I advised them not to miss out on the chance to see 'The Dynamite' in action. I have a video somewhere of Dale Farquhar and Ed Walter enjoying 'The Dynamite' after the Race the Sun last year, ill dig it out and add at some point if I can find it. Dave, Ray and I headed off at the usual time of 0800hrs for a planned 15 mile or so. The morning, although cold, was bright and suggested that maybe we can start to leave a little earlier in the coming weeks so to get to The Caff a little earlier. The sausage and egg bap felt more like lunch yesterday than breakfast as it was close to noon by the time we got there.

Christine and I had planned to meet friends on Saturday afternoon so made are way to The Whitehouse to start an afternoon of food and drink. The food never materialised but the drink made up for it and we stopped on the way home some time later and picked up some chilled Pasty and a box of Fruit and Fibre for supper, not really the best preparation for the following morning.

This morning (Sunday) was the last round of the Manx Harriers Winter League held at the NSC. Conditions again were ideal for what is always a well supported and organised event. Two of the leading Female walkers, Erika Kelly and Hannah Hunter, were missing as was another leading Male walker Tom Partington as they were all competing at the Sheffield Indoor 3000 Meter event. Most of the usual training group were competing on the 10k event, however Richard Gerrard and Dave walker were missing due to work commitments and Richard Wild was stuck on the other side of the water due to a late kick off last night in the Tottenham Liverpool game. I'm happy to say the Mighty Liverpool won the game so Rich will feel missing the last round was worthwhile. Stew Jones walked strongly to finish in the mid 57's and Pete Miller knocked almost a minute of his current 10k PB to finish around 61mins. Ray walked well considering he is still coming of the back of the Flu bug and has also spent the week fitting training in around building a new wall (in Ramsey not on the America / Mexico border) I managed to PB finishing in a time of 56mins 06secs so it really was A Good Week!

Monday, 6 February 2017

A Cracking Event

Repetitive I know,

Entries have opened for the Fire Fighters Charity Walk. The event is a chance to try out clothing, eating, drinking and gives an opportunity for your support crew to practice what will be expected of them on the big day.

It is also a recce of the Peel to Ramsey section of the Parish route

April 23rd 2017

See you there!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

A Sticky Subject!

I was asked this week what I thought a good distance to train would be for this time of year. This for me is a tricky question to answer because I never started walking to compete on the Parish Walk. I would think there are a lot of different opinions on this but would say that as long as you’re out training you will know when you’re ready to increase the mileage. The 31 mile Fire Fighters Charity Walk in April should be part of that training though and what you are steadily building the mileage up to.

I had my first round of friction massage on Monday as part of the recommendations I was given to try and resolve the achilles issue. A half hour of someone sticking fingers and thumbs into an already sore tendon wasn't pleasant, but admittedly, it did feel a little better for it on Tuesday evening, although heavily swollen again, from the experience.

I never managed to get out training on Thursday due to work commitments, but as it happens the weather was dreadful so I feel I dodged a bullet. I did manage to get out with Ray on Wednesday evening for a stroll from the NSC to the old White City and back which surprisingly was just under 8 miles so missing Thursday was not too bad.

Saturday morning was a lot dryer than the evening before when it rained constantly. Dave, Ray, Stew, Andy and I met at the NSC as usual and went for a lap of Baldwin before heading up to Onchan and the White Bridge before dropping back down through Groudle to finish in Douglas. The watch bleeped as we got to the Bottle Neck car park to record 17 Miles, my arse had already alerted me to the fact, through chafing, we had done a few miles coming down Port Jack! Thankfully Stew had parked his car at his work in Athol Street so a lift was offered and accepted back to the NSC car park, after are usual halt at The Caff. Sitting at work again this evening isn't making the chaffing feel much better. I will ask Christine whether she has changed the laundry powder as I don't normally suffer over a short distance and hadn’t prepared myself with Vaseline!!

The use of Vaseline, or other similar product, was something I will mention again closer to the Fireman's and Parish Walks, however, seen I have brought the subject up early during this post I will continue. I suffered terribly with chaffing during one of my early End to End walks. I had smothered my feet in the stuff, this had been the advice I had been given from someone else as a sure fire way to prevent blisters, but I stopped there. Now I find before a walk I apply it under my armpits, where the seam of my T shirt sleeves rub, around the area my bottle belt sits and of course in other more personal areas including my groin and backside, some people smear it over their nipples, however, I use medical dressing tape, I no longer spread it on my feet. If you have been walking for a while now and have not experienced chafing don't think you're not susceptible to it. The Parish, will maybe not end in tears because of chafage, but will be one hell of an uncomfortable walk with it. Remember to re-apply the stuff often also, even more so after toilet stops. One last thing to mention regarding Vaseline is to bring plenty. The camaraderie on the day or even during the Fire Fighters charity walk in April will be something that you may not have witnessed if this is your first year of competing on such events. Through my own experience of walking I have been offered not only encouragement but food, water, sweets, medical supplies etc. etc. from my close competitors support crews as you see them as often as you see your own. The one thing I have never been offered mind, and would hope Christine never offers, is the use of someone else's Vaseline......... The sportsmanship and good nature on these events has to stop short of 'Double Dipping'