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.