Sunday, 23 December 2007

Quick Hello

It´s a while since I had six days without training when I haven´t been injured but the six came to an end today as did my lethargy and my warm weather training began.

Getting up at 07:30 on my holidays is not something that comes naturally to me but I reckon that´s the time I must use to cause as little disruption to everyone else´s break.

I let myself in fairly gently and completed my first rep in about 6:20ish, a lovely walk across the promenade between Los Pocillos and Los Jameos beach in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote ( those of you who didn´t hate me beforehand probably will before the end of this blog.)

Even at that time of day the sun was already high in the sky and conditions were perfect. I reckon the distance was just over 1k and I gradually reduced my time to 5:30 over five lengths of my new little course.

That´s all for now as there is a queue to use the computer and my money is running out fast.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Secret Addiction & Illicit Trysts

Saturday evening at work and I could barely put one foot in front of the other! The H.S.B.C. 10K was only hours away and an old persistent groin injury had flared up.

I had a couple of Christmas pints with Dave Mackey after I'd finished as he was going to be watching two overrated teams that usually play in red instead of walking the following day. I was not at all convinced that I'd be racing

By the time I arrived home at about 11:30pm, it was still sore but I decided to apply frozen peas to the aforementioned area (not very pleasant) and had another couple of drinks before retiring, the Manx David Beckham with Colden Balls.

Miraculously, Sunday morning, the pain was gone but the day was freezing and I was still feeling less than enthusiastic about the race.

Due to the handicap system, my start time was some 37 minutes after the watch was set off but this gave me the opportunity to watch some good technique by the juniors who were competing by this time.

Finally, I decided that it was about time that I warmed up but I left it right until the last minute before stripping off.

After all the moaning and whingeing about the weather, I found myself on the line, suddenly for the first time feeling up for the challenge. The conditions really were perfect for race walking and gibbing out of my planned 3 hour session the previous day ( I only did just over an hour) left me fresher than I normally would be for such an event.

Although I was nearly 40 seconds behind my personal best time, I was extremely happy to finish in 49:45 seconds, in 17th place way behind the winner, Tara Slinger.

There were a lot of good performances all round , especially from Andy Green who knocked another huge slice off his P.B.

There are many people who I suppose are currently trying to think up ways to meet their secret lover over the holiday period or store themselves a bottle in a hidden place.

I'm going on Holiday for three weeks and somehow I have to find a way to fit in the odd bit of pace training or sneak away to fulfil my new Blog addiction without the rest of the family noticing.

You've probably realised by now how sad I am, so I reckon you may hear from me again before the festivities but if not I hope you enjoy the Christmas and New Year and manage to shoehorn in the odd session yourselves.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Christmas H.S.B.C. Winter Walking League Sunday

This Blog Lark! I promised myself that I would make one posting per week, so as to make sure I had things left to write about and that it would be fresh and leave you wanting more but I seem unable to keep away and I apologise if I'm boring anyone (Though as they say: You know where the 'exit' button is, where the on/off, there's a boat in the morning ad infinitum)

The Christmas Winter walking league fixture at St. Johns, 2004, was the first ever race walk(excluding PW & EtoE) I ever competed in and my wife, Irene and I completed the 10k (three & 1/2 laps of the Village) in a scorching 1 hour and 20 minutes. I always will remember Steve Partington urging us on, 'Come on, it's meant to be hurting!' so knowing how encouraging he is to everyone in all forms of racing, we must have been travelling pretty slowly.

All the walking events are very sociable affairs with the Harriers Racewalking Committee and their helpers usually chipping in, not only to make everyone feel welcome but provide us with a nice hot drink and usually some nibbles. For the Christmas H.S.B.C. W.W.L. fixture, they always try that little bit harder, providing a buffet and a raffle* in St. Johns Football Clubhouse afterwards.

* The Raffle is in aid of the Junior Walkers Fund which helps enable the club to take young race walkers off the Island to compete.

There are a whole host of distances from 1k up to 10k walkers of all abilities from 5 to 85 years old are catered for with all having an equal chance of winning their race due to the handicap system.

The weather forecast is excellent for the time of year, so make sure you turn up on Sunday from 09:30 for a 10:00 start wearing bright colours and something related to Christmas. All raffle prizes with be gratefully accepted.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Mud, Glorious Mud

After the race last week, my body felt a little sore to say the least and I was advised to have an easy week on the training.

Monday, I warmed up with the juniors at the N.S.C. and then just walked about 5 easy laps (2k) with Andy Green who doesn't seem to have discovered the meaning of 'easy lap' yet as I really struggled to keep up with him.

Apparently, the theory is that if you work very hard in a race or training session, the next thing to do is use all the same muscle again but without the intensity and there might be a possibilty that you will regain the flexibility. I am assured that recovery is even more important than the hard work.

This time however, Sean seems to have pushed me a bit further than I am able to extend myself because despite the ice bath on Sunday and another slow 1 &1/2 hours Wednesday, my hamstrings and some muscly things behind my knees (As you may have gathered at this point I tend to glaze over when things get technical) were very tight and I was told by Mark Hempsall who gave me a sports massage that if I didn't miss my plannned pace session for Thursday night, I'd probably end up injured.

By Saturday morning, geed up by that fantastic weather (ha ha,) I could still only muster myself to do 45 minutes before Allan Callow and I decided that enough was enough and we headed off for a hot drink.

The TT access road is usually a very sheltered place to go during wind and rain but I managed to get drenched by a wagon driving along the Peel Road.

Sunday, one minute, I was serving sprouts to the Welsh Society and then twenty minutes later I was dashing from the car to the start line at Glen Lough Campsite, probably faster than at any time during the race.

Full marks to John Halligan, Kevin Loundes, Nigel, the flying dentist and the other sharp end boys because somehow they floated across the fields, through the bog and 24 times over the river whereas it all seemed to be sucking me underneath.

For the first time, I was lapped in a cross country, although I was priveleged to have a race long duel with former top athlete, Dave Newton. I think the lead swapped between us in our 'Mini Prix' about three times before I finally managed to head him by about 20 yards. Then, disaster struck. My foot was grabbed by the bog monster (I can confirm this was not Steve Partington as he was standing laughing at me 15 yards away) and I fell flat on my face. Despite this calamity, I still emerged just in front of Dave but he was breathing down my neck. However, after struggling up the next climb, we entered the final field with me just in the ascendence. Convinced, I could rely on my age advantage, I pressed for home but Dave with as tenacious as the mud, we were dead level over the last 50 yards. Surely, I would triumph; I knew I had the strength to arrive at the line first. However, my genuine lack of speed was the final counter and you really have to admire Dave who is such a great and sporting competitor. We 'dead heated' on time and Newty said that we should be placed level but everyone knew that he had just got the better of me and the results are correct.

These days there seems nothing that Murray can't do on his website and the race video, culminating with our battle is now on the front page of (I'm the black one)

Friday, 7 December 2007

Manx Gas Cross Country at Glen Lough on Sunday

What's this got to do with the Parish Walk?

Well, in truth not an awful lot but this time of year is a great time of year to improve your fitness base for the travails ahead and what better way to do it than a sliding, splashing, mud splattered, lungbusting few laps around Glen Lough campsite?

For those of you just starting your journey to the levels you're going to need for June, there is the 'Short Course' race which is usually aboput 1.5 to 2 miles long and for those a bit further along the road, there is the main race which I think is about 4 miles for the ladies and about 6 miles for the gentlemen (which I suppose is a bit unfair on the girls who will still have to walk 85 mile in June.)

You don't have to be a 'super athlete' to join in and everyone will make you very welcome. If things are the same as a couple of years ago, Western Athletic Club who are hosting the event also do a brilliant job providing hot soup at the end.

There are races for all the family, so bring everyone along and it should be fun for all.

I hope to escape work in time to race, so in the words of Adrian Cowin, 'Good luck and see you there.' (I hope it's not a bad sign that he hasn't posted his usual forecast)

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Peel to Douglas Wade

Yesterday was the Empire Garage Peel to Douglas Walk, held in the wettest conditions ever apparently, according to John Cannell (six times P.W. winner and veteran of 30 Peel to Douglas) and the way I was dripping at the end, I'm not about to dispute that.

Despite the weather, 55 hardy souls started the race and all but one managed to finish. Finding marshals has been a real challenge in recent times and I hope that none have them have been put off by the drenching they all received on Sunday. Even in the rain , they were all very encouraging to us and I think I can thank them, all the other organisers, timekeeper etc. on behalf of all the walkers. Particular mention should be made of Paul Jackson and Nick Percival who overcame mechanical disaster to get all the signs in place and pick them up after.

Although walking through rivers with feet feeling like lumps of lead, there were some great performances, particularly by Peter Kaneen and Marie Jackson, winners of the men's and lady's races.

A little further down the field, Andy Green continued his impressive introduction to race walking. Mark Stewart still has a little way to go before he gets back to his best (82 mins) but improved on his last race, Janice Quirk finshed on the podium again and Dave Mackey knocked nearly 11 minutes off his January time, thrilling the ladies in his 'Skins.'

Believe it or not except for the two highest profile races on the Island (Parish & End to End,) Sean Hands' and my P.B.s (personal best performances) are very similar and I have spent most of 2007 hoping that he would come back in the belief that we would spur each other on to better things. Well , yesterday, I spent about 5 or 6 miles wishing he would go away again. I heard footsteps coming alongside me at Greeba Castle (at least I think it was there. My brain tends to go A.W.O.L. during races) and looked across expecting to see Jock Waddington and was surprised to see Sean who I think it's fair to say hasn't really been at the races since his triumphant 2006 season culminated with his brilliant win in the 100 miles.

We passed each other several times on the swim into home and it was only in the last mile or so when I was able to open a little gap. In fact he nearly caught me at the end when I tiptoed along the kerb instead of parting the waves in the lake at the Q.B. Let's hope he will now get back to his best and our rivalry will continue. Whether I am in the same Parish as him remains to be seen.

Rather than offer tips, I think it would be better just to tell you about the mistakes I make in each race and training session and pretty soon, you'll have a comprehensive list of what not to do.

Yesterday's novice errors were:

I wore a cotton tea-shirt instead of Lycra vest and within minutes it was absolutely sodden and soo heavy that I had half a mind to stop and take it off.

Forgot to take my inhaler and wheezed from Peel to Douglas.

Lubricated under my arms and between my legs but forgot to take the rain into account and apply the vaseline to other parts of my body. Therefore, today I am pretty sore in some sensitive areas (and I don't mean feet or muscles.)