Thursday, April 22, 2010

2001 - and a Rehabilitation Odyssey

Well, it's all quiet on the Training Front, but not so quiet on the Patella Front.

Having exacerbated my left knee injury by playing football at Laxey on Easter Sunday, I went for the Rest option. But you get fed up with doing nothing, and there seemed to be no sign of the pain diminishing. I found some old Motifene in a cupboard (Ibroprofen type anti-inflammatory), prescribed a couple of years ago for my shoulder injury.

Hint: Don't throw away your old drugs as advised by Doctors and Chemists, you never know when you might need them***

Motifene, rest and ice have not done much, but I have started on a new regime of squats to strengthen my quads, which should pull the kneecap up and stop it pinching the sore bit under the kneecap.

Stairs and hills are still a problem, but yesterday I went for a two mile walk through Lakeside up to Groudle Road and back. Some pain ascending and descending, but just about bearable.

Then today I have just been to the NSC and did 2 and a half miles on the treadmill, set to "Flat", and at a modest 8kph, and I felt no pain at all. I now wait until tomorrow to see if the knee gets inflamed again.

Overall, it's not going so well, especially compared to the doings of Dave Walker and his 18 mile walks. And not so well compared to the dozens of walkers you see every evening now, trying to out-compete the hedgerow daffodils for yellowness. The last three weeks have been bathed in glorious weather and that is one of the reasons why the Parish is special - training surrounded by primroses, daffodils and the sound of rutting and happy birds all around, is a delight. That is a reason why it is so frustrating not to be out and about. I think Birdsong will soon win out over Knee Pain.

I had meant to write about previous Parish Walks in fallow writing times, and this is indeed a fallow time. So, next up, my second Parish in 2001. Once again about 20 of us walked as Laxey Football Club, in club shirts, which I still wear to this day. We were raising money again for Running for Jack.

I walked most of the way to Peel with my brother-in-law, Kevin Graham, who is a natural, and whose best finish time to date is 20.12. Like me, he has finished five times, and we walk well together. Also with us in 2001 was Gill Churcher, whose children played for Laxey. We walked all the way together, but Kevin did his knee in walking down into Glen Maye and finished about three minutes behind us. I finished in Peel in 7.31.33, about ten minutes quicker than the previous year, and Gill Churcher was a few seconds behind me. Gill later went on to record three finishes, her best being 19.20 in 2006 and her husband David is a five times finisher.

As I finished about 14 seconds ahead of Gill, I must have ungallantly deserted her somewhere in Peel. That competitive urge makes you a bad person. As with the previous year, I found that I was going really well on the road into Peel, as if a second wind had been found. That's why you think, "Maybe next year I can go further........"

And that's how you get caught in the Parish Trap...

*** Don't listen to him above - speaking as the Member with Political Responsibility for Health I should re-iterate that under no circumstances should you use out of date prescribed drugs, and unused drugs should be disposed of responsibly at all times....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Door Closes and Another One Shuts....

You know when you sit down with your legs crossed, and to keep yourself amused you have an overriding urge to hit the reflex part of your knee with a hammer to make your leg jerk?

Probably not. (By way of explanation I grew up on a farm in the hills with no electricity or water so our entertainment was at a very low level, and leg jerking was one of the highlights of life, along with thinning turnips.....

Anyway this is a roundabout way of saying that I have done very little training. For some weeks now, that bit of your knee which you hit with the hammer has been giving me trouble. On the flat I have been fine, but up or down hills, or particularly on stairs, that part gives me a sharp pointing pain.

After the exertions of the last round of the Winter Walking League, where it caused no problem, the knee pain increased considerably, definitely an aftermath of those exertions.

One of the highlights of my year is a full game for Laxey playing the annual game against Liverpool Collegiate on Easter Sunday. I have probably played in most of those games annually since about 1970. In my preparation for that, I decided to go for a run, and I then realised how bad the knee was.

Of course that did not stop me playing on Sunday against Collegiate - thanks to recent walk training I am probably a lot fitter generally, and I was expecting to play the full 90 minutes with ease. In the event, because of the knee, I couldn't take off for jumps, or twist or turn. I could only run in a straight line, and had to come off after fifteen minutes. So naturally that made the knee much worse and I have been trying to rest it as much as possible. Playing (or walking) through pain is not always wise, as I should have learned by now.

Having had the door opened to future major training by getting rid of The Great Snot, thanks to antibiotics and Doctor Gavin, another door has been closed by The Knee.

Once again Steve Partington gets a mention here, because he advised me at the Sports Award evening to get Glucosamine, Voltarol and frozen peas to hasten recovery. The treatment has started....

As to the excellent night at the Sports Awards, I was there as a legacy of my all too brief role with responsibility for Sport and Leisure. I was particularly pleased with the award to Peter Kinnish, Laxey AFC Stalwart, who has dedicated his life to the club, in particular to setting up all the junior football we have. We finally reaped the rewards of his efforts three years ago when we won the Grand Slam, and we are still in with a chance of winning the League again this year.

Ron Ronan, international footballer and tennis player and much quicker than me in the Winter Walking League was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a real gentleman and great competitor, organiser and helper and it was really pleasing to see him recognised in that way. Finally Janice Quirk received an award for Outstanding Achievement for her amazing time and walk in the Parish Walk last year.

Finally, any Doctors, physios or athletes out there know what my knee problem is?

And for the bored and disturbed, is there a website out there dedicated to people who like hitting their kneecap with hammers?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Eleven and a Half is the new Twelve and a Half

I suppose you will realize by now that if I had been doing mega-training, this blog would have been full of my derring-do.

So the last real action I did was the final Winter Walking League at the end of March. This was held on the NSC perimeter road, on a new super spongy surface, guaranteed to give a glut of personal bests. And so it proved. For once IOM Government have improved a road surface for sports people other than those who ride Japanese super bikes.

For the first time all winter, the weather was perfect and there was an excellent turn-out. A mass start was slightly daunting as it takes a while to find out your level.

Twelve and a half laps were required, and my first schoolboy error was to hit the wrong button on my Garmin Forerunner at the start. I got it going properly as we started the second lap, and spent the rest of the race trying to add the time of what I guessed the first lap might be, to what was showing on the watch. That way, with a tired mind, lies confusion.

Second schoolboy error - over reliance on the mileage shown on the Garmin Forerunner is not good for you on a course which has been measured by The Experts Who Scorn The Great Satellite In The Sky.

Steve Partington lapped me three times, and in working out how far ahead he was, my numbers got mixed up. On my ‘last’ lap, I was closing reasonably quickly on Colin Moore, who has been a couple of minutes quicker than me all winter, no matter how much I improve. I thought I may be able to close him before the finish and gave it my all.


As I buzzed down the finishing straight, I was too far away to catch him, and then came a call from a long finished Steve Partington - “keep it going Dud” - combined with someone waving a bell at me. Another full lap to go as your body and mind scream “No!” Eleven and a half does not equal twelve and a half….

That was a devastating feeling. All you want to do is collapse in an exhausted heap, totally, totally spent, but you have to pretend you know exactly what you are doing, and set off on a racing last “extra” lap. So off I set, trying to work out the arithmetical gymnastics of what Mr. Garmin was telling me, in a state of exhaustion. Mental arithmetic and race-walking are not good bedfellows.

In the event I did not catch Colin, but I knocked about 45 seconds off my previous time, and finished in 1.08.06. That is a four minute improvement over the winter.

To get any quicker will need a much better technique, but I enjoyed the experience. The last time I did anything similar was over ten years ago in the Fireman’s Runs at Ramsey, and before that in Douglas.

The organization of the Winter Walking League was superb, and many thanks to Steve Taylor and all the officials who give up Sunday mornings for the sport. And the walkers themselves were friendly and supportive and if any “non-racer” fancies a go next season, go for it, you will enjoy it and be encouraged no matter what your level is.

So that is the speed work done for the Parish - now to get in some serious miles and hills. I’ll save the speed bit for the final two miles along the Douglas Prom in June……… hopefully……

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Joys of Amoxicillin....

More Blog Neglect. I am expecting Murray and his Blog Police to come round soon one midnight and take me away for a good thrashing with well worn Reeboks. And you can't outrun Murray's Athletic Stormtroopers. They train too much.

And so to training, and I hope the last ever mention of The Great Snot. I did 5 miles at the NSC a couple of weeks ago, and struggled with the breathing - so much so that I finally went to the Doctor.

I had been to a Doctor a couple of weeks earlier for something else, but that day had just done a 12 mile walk, so TGS had temporarily ceased, as it does after exercise - so I forgot to tell him of my cold. Men are generally useless, and particularly so around Doctors....

You feel an idiot going to the Doctor with a cold, but it had lasted exactly three months on the day I finally went to see her, and she didn't mind at all. I was given a course of anti-biotics - Amoxicillin - which I started taking that day, a Monday.

I went for an eight mile walk around Lonan Old Church Road the next day and what a difference. The pills had obviously started their work immediately, for I was able to finish the eight miles in 1.33.04, my quickest ever, by about five minutes. I have never been able to average more than 5mph over any distance longer than 5 miles before, except on the flat in the Winter Walking League. The Lonan walk includes plenty of hills and although I was tired at the end, I felt so much better than I have done all winter.

A couple of days later I went on the treadmill at the NSC and did six miles, set at 8.7kph, (and a final burst at 9kph) which I was able to maintain comfortably.

So praise be to Amoxicillin and Doctor Gavin.

The real bonus is being able to taste my food and Okells again, and I can now expect to play a full ninety minutes for Laxey this weekend against Liverpool Collegiate, instead of going off at half-time, a mucus stained wreck.

On a less happy note, the re-organisation of Government did not go as I hoped. I was given The Dream Job in January - responsibility for Sport and Leisure. I was looking forward to a long working relationship with Andy Varnon and Paul Bridson (The Man Who Won Laxey The Grand Slam) and Geoff Karran on Sports Development and the Sports Council, and Carl Glover and his team at the NSC. The work they do is inspiring and we are very fortunate to have them and all the facilities they provide. That role finished today, and I will miss working with them.

In the re-shuffle I stay in Education, and I was also asked to take over responsibility for Health, which I have done as of today. That will be a real challenge and I am excited about working there. I was in the DHSS, responsible for Social Services, for over two years, so I know a lot of the people in Health. You can blame me now if the Reciprocal Health Agreement goes wrong again.

Perhaps my first action should be to recommend Doctor Gavin for an MBE for services to Average Sportsmen With Blocked Noses and her prescription of Amoxicillin....

Winter Walking League and some more history soon......