Having been initially concerned that I wouldn't have enough material to fill a 'Blog,' now I am more worried that I won't have time to complete all the things I intend to include. With this site being launched so early, late last year, my plan was to follow the rough template set by last year's 'Bloggers,' Dave, Steve and Mark (Mark, I promise there is no insult intended by putting you last in that group of three) by posting roughly once per week. I suppose you could say I've gone for quantity rather than quality.
Unfortunately, today's 'Post' is yet another example of me leading by bad example. The idea for Wednesday was to walk a steady hour and a half, then follow it up with a fast 5 miles on Thursday.
Today's lesson: This close to a big race, don't try anything radical or new.
Rapidly running out of the usual suspects that I walk with as they either weren't coming out to play or had already trained, I telephoned Mark Hempsall who I usually try to avoid midweek as he does all these mad hill sessiony things. However, on this occasion as I didn't fancy being 'Billy No Mates,' I decided to give it a blast.
Alan Cowin, was also in the company and we set off to climb the Saddlestone Mountains. I really intend to rest on the uphill sections of the course, so although I have included many, many inclines in my training which I have ascended at a much swifter pace than I will be on the day (lets face it we can hardly avoid them over here) I have shied away from specifically targeting hills as part of my programme.
As I mentioned previously, the original plan was for a fairly easy walk and therefore, I wasn't trying to mix it with the lads on the first four reps and they showed me two clean pairs of heels. However, as the fifth materialised and it was longer and less steep than the initial ones, the competitive juices had began to flow and I couldn't resist 'Giving it a blast!'
Mark who in the past I have labelled, 'Conan the Destroyer' because of his Arnold Schwarzenegger physique and aggressive power walking technique, is a formidable opponent at anything but the hills are his particular domain. Given the gentle rise on this one, though, I just about managed to hold him off.
Despite knowing earlier in my own mind that I would finish after one round, we went back to 'Copse Hill,' our first one. I was now, fancying myself to beat Mark up a steeper incline especially as he has laid off walking training since the 'Sarah Killey,' only cycling some 2 to 300 miles a week. We had a great battle but Mark, switching from 'Arnie' to 'Groucho,'(You have to see it to believe it) emerged the victor by about 3 to 4 yards.
And then, they were doing, 'The Fun Part' i.e. walking backwards upwards which apparently is very good for strengthening the 'quads.'
What is wasn't good for though, was my long standing groin injury which I finally thought I'd cured (by specific groin strengthening and core strengthening excercises given to me by the aforementioned Mr Hempsall) and only after about 40 or 50m, it was hurting once again and now I'm sidelined for another few days to try and fix it.
Incidentally, there is no truth to the scurrilous rumour that Mark deliberately sabotaged me so that he could make more money putting me back together again. However, what is true is that unfortunately, he has decided to withdraw from this year's race. As I alluded to earlier, he hasn't properly recovered from what he thinks is a stress fracture he sustained during his epic battle with Jock Waddington and though there seemed little evidence to me that he was anything but 100% fit as he disappeared into the distance the other night, he doesn't feel confident that it will hold out for the full 85 miles.
The better news is that he has generously agreed to support erstwhile team member, and captain, Dave Mackey into the wee small hours. One question for Dave though: Will we now be called, Eminem & Em now that we are missing an 'M?' Suggestions for new name in the comments, please.
Bob Corrin's recent question on Manx Athletics Forum opened a discussion about seedings which Murray has followed up on his blog. I don't quite know how I have been placed in front of Peter Kaneen. One who seems to have slipped under the 'Planter's' (of seeds getit?) radar is Alan Cowin who has been training for this event for the last 16 months or so. The top football referee (he was in charge for this year's F.A.Cup Final) is in great shape after his 3rd place in the 'Seven Stations.' He has entered the Parish five times previously, finishing 10th on his 4th attempt in 2004 in 18:07, following that up with 16:39 and 6th place in 2006. He is unbeaten against me in all the four races we have both competed in, yet I only actually met him earlier this year. Of course whatever number is on his vest won't affect his performance but I have a sneaking suspicion he will once again be in that top ten belying his lowly seeding of 151.
So to recap, I'm cursing my stupidity because I went and did something very out of the ordinary in the lead up to the race. This is the time to develop ultra conservatism. Try not to do anything out of the ordinary over the next few weeks and scale down your training. I seem to have got away with it this time but I won't be doing that again.