Friday, February 26, 2010

8 Mile High.....

My compromised breathing, aka The Great Snot has been a real problem since the last Winter Walking League on 7th February. I have managed just three outings to the gym, the last of which I only lasted a mile on the treadmill before I had to stop.

And that is the problem with the gym, and the treadmill - once you feel unwell, you can just jump off.

So yesterday evening I did the Real Thing. No jumping off. I did an eight mile walk from my home via Lakeside, Groudle Road, Lonan Old Church Road to Baldrine and back. A reasonable time but nowhere near the pace of the Walking League. Lots of stiff little hills of course, and slowed down by TGS. But halfway into it, and I could smell the countryside and when I got home I could actually taste my food. For a couple of hours the nose was cleared, but it has come back. It seems I need constant exercise to keep it clear.

As to the Walking League, I have now done three rounds, the first and the two at Andreas. Each time I have knocked a couple of minutes off, and I have realised that when you are competing you are really going much quicker than training walks or even a blast in the gym. The competitive urge gives you that extra pace which is hard to replicate in a training walk.

In the first round at Andreas, Steve Partington was there giving encouragement and tips on techniques. Am I alone in following his advice as I walk past him each lap, and then lapsing into the usual trudge as soon as you think he is out of sight? Arms pumping, pushing off from the heels, while he watches, the usual flailing struggle out of sight.

The second round, after a bit more training, I was going much better - Steve still shouted his advice and I was managing to keep to his advice, even round the corner out of sight. But when you get tired, it is hard to keep your concentration going, to concentrate on keeping up the technique.

So it seems to me that the first thing to do is get really fit - then tiredness won't interfere with technique.

Finally, at the Walk in Andreas I met my fellow blogger, Dave Walker. I had presumed from the amount of training he was getting in that he might be a shift worker, and I guessed he might even be a Policeman.

It turns out however, that he is a much more important and valuble member of society than that.....

More 8 mile highs next week.......

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Parish 2000 - Running for Jack

My first serious Parish foray was in 2000. Playing for us at Laxey then was Lee Partington, a skilful midfielder who helped set us on our way to the glory of later years. His brother Steve was an occasional spectator and had just set up a charity in memory of his son Jack. I think that was the year that he and Cal ran a series of Marathons from Liverpool down to London, and then completed the London Marathon.

So about 25 club members, players, helpers and ladies entered the Parish Walk together to raise funds for the charity. We started at the Villa that day, and we all wore our Laxey kit, and started from the back.

Top Tip: Always start at the back - the views are much better. And you spend the day overtaking everyone, a great psychological boost. I may even have done a couple of Parishes when I have never been overtaken at all.

(Top Tip for a Good Time - DON'T Start At The Back)

Anyway, in 2000 on the way towards Rushen I walked with George Lawson, Dave Callow and Barry Williams. On a crowded pavement just after Ballasalla, I tripped and fell and broke a finger.. Stubborness always overrules fractures in my experience, so I carried on, my hand and shirt bloodied, and helpers amongst the spectators handing me tissues every so often to soak up the blood.

And so to the Sloc. The Sloc in Parish folklore is like a fabled monster. Just the words, "The Sloc" conjure up some evil presence. It certainly did it's job in splitting up the four of us, but it was nowhere near the monster I had imagined. Those Who Know will know that Ballakillowey and Ballajora are the Real Monsters. Going down hill into Dalby was far worse than the Sloc, and the feet were getting very painful.

As I walked from Dalby to Glen Maye, a big blister under the ball of my left foot burst, and I was in agony - the result being a very debilitating limp. Fortunately, a mile or so later, the big blister under the ball of my right foot burst, and the pain was evened up, so I was able to plough on, limping with both feet equally - and that equals walking normally, but with a pained grimace on your face.

I have learned to totally ignore the pain of blisters. You just pretend it is happening to someone else. I was once told that blue-eyed people have a higher pain threshold, so I make it so. It is probably rubbish, but it works for me as long as I keep believing.

So, with no limp to hold me back, and a quick infusion of a Lucozade Sport, I suddenly started to pick up pace and picked off a load of people on the way to Peel. I finished second of the Laxey crowd, with Michael Cowin - Chippy - already there a few minutes ahead of me. He always had a good engine as a footballer and I am sure he would have been a more than useful walker if he had taken it up. My time was somewhere around 7 hours 40. Of course, the post walk warm-down was a few pints in the Creek, followed by even more later at the Mines in Laxey. It was a great day out for everyone, good for the Club morale, and we raised money for Running For Jack.

And that started the bug for me really - the feet were a mess, but the last few miles into Peel had been a real buzz. I was definitely going to have another go. Maybe even train for it...


I have only trained twice since doing the Winter Walking League at Andreas the Sunday before last. Work has got in the way, in particular the Tynwald sitting this week. We sat until 12.30am (from 10.30am) on Wednesday debating the re-structure of Government, and the other two days went on until late in the evening. There was an amendment which could have led indirectly to the privatisation of the NSC and the Sports Development Unit, so I spoke against that, pointing out that private ownership would scupper all the wonderful voluntary work being done, and the work, especially with children, being done by Sports Council, Sport Aid and the NSC staff.

And for those interested in bodily secretions, the Great Snot continues. The less I train, the worse it gets. Must get Training......

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Quest for Speed - Part Two....

Murray's guest bloggers over the years have given me some inspiration - in particular the 2007 Bloggers. Following the advice of Steve Partington and Mark Hempsall, I bought a pair of Saucony Fast Twitch trainers, which I still have. Lovely and light, they survived the meagre training of 2008 and the 20 odd miles I managed in the Parish, and I am still using them for training this year.

However, they are now a bit thin on the sole, and Slippery When Wet. They will be fine on the 10k distance for the Winter Walking League, but I think for someone of my size and weight I need something a bit more substantial, particularly over the full 85 miles.

So next week I intend to visit Colin Higgins at St Paul's Square and he will pluck out from his myriad of boxes a pair of chunky size 12 boats to cushion me through the day and night.

Saucony for Speed, Chunky Size 12 Boats to get to the finish.

The other device, which I now treasure, was advocated by Mark Hempsall. A Garmin 305 Forerunner. This picks up satellites and tell you how fast and exactly how far you have gone. It does lots of other things as well, including being able to be uploaded onto computer. I haven't bothered with the extras - reading instruction booklets is an alien pastime for me. I just have the speed set at Minutes per Mile and try to always be faster than 12 minute miles.

Sometimes, deliriously, you find you are going quicker than 10 minute miles and then like a dagger through the heart, you find on some stretches you have slowed to over 13 minutes. Those are black moments indeed....

And that Garmin is the Fish Wife of Electrical Gadgets. It nags. And nags. And never stops Nagging. If at a glance you see you are slowing down, you just have to speed up. It is a constant reminder and MAKES you go harder. I love it and hate it.

Training - still a bit barren, because of breathing problems caused by The Great Snot.

After my six mile walk last week, the next day I followed up with 5 miles on the treadmill at the NSC, and this week have been to the NSC twice, with a six mile walk, and a seven mile walk. It is getting easier, and while trying to build up fitness I have stopped sticking the Treadmill on "Hills" and starting at 8.5kph, - it was just too much in my present condition.

I have decided to be sensible in my build-up, so I stay off the "Hills" setting for now, and start off at 8.2kph and don't hit 8.5 until halfway through. By the last mile I can cope with 8.7kph, and I do believe I can detect a bit of the old swaying hips that the "real" walkers seem to use. Plus, I have stopped collapsing afterwards, which was happening last month.

So training is not going wonderfully, but much better than ever before. It normally takes a daffodil or two to get me out for my first walk, so doing the Blog is making a huge difference.

My Hi-Viz top is still a virgin though - next week for sure.......