Tuesday, 30 November 2010

30th November, 2010

The Parish website starts again at midnight, and entries are open for the 2011 race. I intend to be one of the first this year, the other times I've delayed entering for some unknown reason, possibly fear of the race itself, not feeling fit enough, worrying if my record of finishing every race will come to an end. I have only had 8 major races, 4 Parishes, two end to ends, the 2010 Bradford Whit walk and the Centurion in August, which I entered and only decided to do a couple of days before. Luckily I did and will remember it as a high point of my life. My problem is that I walk, train and prepare alone, all except 2009 Parish which I roped my cousin into, so many enjoyable training sessions around Yorkshire. Preparing alone means you have nothing to guage yourself against so before every race I'm full of self doubt, worrying that other good results are a one off and I'll finally be found out!  I still consider myself a novice worrying about everything and whether I'm doing it right. My only saving grace is that I love walking, headphones on, (no music, funnily, usually audio books or radio podcasts.. i have my favourites!) and away I go. The benefits of being extra fit and healthy which comes from my "hobby" and which have probably put years on my life come as a bonus. It's probably come with advancing years that I can admire the passing scenery and relax mentally as the miles tick away.
        To anyone else thinking of entering for the 2011 race, whether for the first time, or as a serial Parish addict (which I am definitely one!) I say good luck, good health and pick a target, whether a parish along the way or a finish. I set off my first one with the finish line always in my mind, nothing else mattered, which helped me on the way. My targets are 1. Toe to the start line. Not as stupid as it sounds, I have lots of preparation and a bootful of gear to transport. 2. Finish. Anguish sets in during the race when there is a possibility of failing. Encouragement and support from friends and spectators go a long way. and 3. Beat my previous performances. I don't race anyone else, I don't have targets of who I want to beat, I only race one person... myself.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Friday 26th November.

I'm living in Ulverston at the moment, a small market town between Barrow in Furness and Windemere. I've been working out of Barrow on the windfarm at Walney offshore for the last 10 months, staying in a flat that used to be part of the old Laurel and Hardy Museum in the centre of Ulverston. It's handy because as soon as I'm out of the front door I'm on an uphill climb of over 300 metres in 3 miles which is perfect for fitness and cardio training. Out the door, and set the timer for 30 mins, get as far as possible, and try and push it a bit further every day. I have a heart rate monitor for the cardio, so try and push the rate over 160 for the full 30 minute climb to increase the lactose tolerance levels. then its a 25 minute (it's downhill) trip back down. An hour round trip three or four times a week.

Ulverston twinned with Albert France. Don't know who he was...

          Unfortunately my time here in the lakes finishes at the end of the year, the Humber has become busier so it's back to the old life. I could have stayed here full time but it would have meant re-locating the family, and as my wife is just settling in at work, and the girls are midway through their GCSE's, it wasn't worth it. I'll be swapping the southern lakes for the Yorkshire wolds training ground.
          I also have longer training walks, 5, 8 and 12 miles, all timed, and all with decent climbs and descents, and finally 10.3 miles from the flat to the office in Barrow which is done on a regular basis. try and arrive within 2 hours. There is a small diversion I take to pass the Rhinos and Giraffes at South Lakeland wildlife Park, and about 30 minutes in I peak a small hill and get a glimpse of the Isle of Man. On a clear day at least. 

         Today was fine and clear so as I was clear of work it was a quick drive up to Coniston, about 20 minutes, park up,  then up the Old Man of coniston, at around 2800 feet quite a big one. I've been resting for a week since my last 10k in York as I felt a slight twinge on my right hamstring, not a grade 1 but a warning. I've had a few problems with it since the Parish which I'll go over at a later date. Suffice to say, any twinge, and it's ice, rest  and elevation. Annoying because a few friends were doing a night climb earlier this week and I had to miss out. Sunset from the top of Scafell is said to be spectacular and the startlit sky difficult to describe. Possibly next week. Anyway, no twinges froim the hamstring so prevention is better than cure.

         Ulverston has a dickensian weekend over the next couple of days which means the whole town changes into victorian mode, so it's training in Pantaloons and a top hat. But out for a couple of walks hoping the snow stays away. We've been lucky so far...
 On top of the Old Man of coniston. Cold!

Monday, 22 November 2010

          I have completed the Parish 4 times now, from my first steps into the unknown in 2007 up to this summer when I was still stumbling into the unknown! During that time I have had to learn along the way, not having anyone to really learn from except my neice, Helen Taylor from Peel, who luckily for me is a dedicated personal trainer, and who had at that time had completed the Parish in 2001. Helen served me well as support crew during my first two. If she hadn't locked the car door climbing out of Maghauld that first time and refused to let me in I might never have finished...
        In the blog I will be going over all the tips and methods I have picked up, whether through trial and error, passed on by others, my trainer, or from my association with the University of Hull Sports Science department who regularly hitch me up to their machines and tell me to stop eating chips.

       I've also lost around 4 stone in weight in that time, picking up dieting experience and will also pass this on. There isn't really any secret about successful weight loss, but lots of it needs research which I've done over the years. My wife successfully lost "A little weight" (If I put how much she'll not speak to me again!) over the same time using my methods. It's not just weight loss, also healthy eating and preparing for races.
       Anything I do write will be all my own opinion and research though, anything taken from elsewhere will be acknowledged, and I'm not saying it's either a. Correct, or b. Good for everyone, so any help, comments or corrections are most welcome and will also be acknowledged. I'm partly here to find help in my own preparation as well as passing on what I've collated over the last 4 years.
       Also, I want to make the blog interesting and entertaining, so any contributions are also warmly welcomed.
       Finally, through competing in the Parish I have worked as a volunteer with Macmillan Cancer Support, raising thousands of pounds personally and regularly working with Humberside branch in many different ventures. I have set up a "just giving" webpage link on this page, and would be grateful for any contributions. Also any questions about Macmillan and the work they do are welcome. I have trained in giving lectures so could bore you for hours! If anyone wants me to turn up and give a lecture on the work of Macmillan, I only require tea and biscuits.

Thanks, and catch you later!

About me, part 1.

Why I took on the Parish in the first place.

Firstly let me introduce myself. I was born in Hull in East Yorkshire in 1963. I’m 47 years old, (save you doing the maths) married to Denise, a hotel worker, and father to two teenage girls, Lauren, 15 and Nicola, 13, both sadly unemployed as yet so not contributing to the household income. I spent 25 years at sea in the Merchant Navy, rising to Captain in the late 90’s, before coming ashore in 2005 to take up a job piloting ships into the Humber, a sort of valet parking for very, very heavy goods vehicles.
          As a younger man I tried all kinds of sports and pastimes, football to Sunday league level, rugby league (it hurts) golf, although my handicap has never dropped below 20, and the most consistent thing about my game is the inconsistency, and virtually every pub sport going. The problem with it all was that I was around for a few weeks, then when the practise kicked in and I started to improve I was off back to sea and the whole cycle started again. Dreams of being a world class sportsman slowly faded away, with my season ticket to Hull City being my only contact with the sporting world.
          One thing I did do was walk. I walked to school from an early age, imagine hovis adverts with a sepia tone, baggy shorts and drizzle, that was pretty much life as I romantically remember it in the late 60’s and early 70’s, apart from the short glam rock era which saw me walking in flares, massive collars and long hair. I have photographs but they are safely locked away as I don’t care for blackmail. Walking the three or four miles to school and back every day was a way of not only keeping fit (not my intention) but saving my bus fares for comics and sweets, and also, although I didn’t realise at the time, clearing my thoughts and setting myself up for the day.
           Off to sea in 1980, and I kept up this “hobby”, and when the ship moored alongside, whether in Manchester or Mozambique, I was off for a long walk to explore at the first opportunity. As most port areas are usually miles from the nearest town, this could involve 10 miles or more just to get a British newspaper, or whatever toiletries I needed. Either that or sit on board drinking beer with the rest of the crew. Okay, I did this quite often as well.
           Fitness wise, being at sea is an equally healthy yet unhealthy life. Sea air and physical hard work being the positive, yet working 24 hours and coming into contact with all kinds of dangerous cargoes the downside. Running around on deck kept me reasonably trim, up until taking command, when it was all paperwork and phone calls, with a steward bringing up constant temptations from the galley. I left weighing about 15 stone to take up a job with even less physical exercise.
          A couple of days into the new year in 2007 I weighed myself and was surprised to see the scales touch 17 stones. Something had to be done. I had virtually given up the walking, driving to work and back and sitting around waiting for middle age. It was then that I was talking to my niece, Helen Taylor, who was across for the holidays from the Isle of Man visiting her Yorkshire family.
         “Why don’t you do the Parish Walk?”
          Words that were to change my life.
          I managed to get a video from a colleague who was into fell walking and had taped the event off Sky, watched it twice, the first time wondering what I was thinking of, and the second watching people stumbling over the line after 24 hours, yet smiling with genuine happiness. These people were just like me, normal everyday people doing something special.
          I started training.