2009 Parish, Part 1.
I’m back in Ulverston, had to come back on Friday as two of the Nuclear waste ships came back, and now I’m working here until August at the earliest. It was chucking it down today (Friday) and I didn’t get back to the flat until it was dark, so some upper body work at my home made gym was in order, race walking uses the arms in such a way that it utilises the shoulders and upper back, the arm swing provides momentum and the harder you push your arms, the faster you go, if you want more speed you pump the arms heavier. This means you don’t have to put so much emphasis on the legs. So, as an additional part of this years training, more upper body exercise. Stomach and lower back as well, they all play a part so more gym sessions, swimming and yoga to get a full body workout.
I have a 20k at Leeds on 27th March, the Northern championships so I’m going to combine Parish training with race walk practise to get ready for that. It’s my first 20k, so aiming for under 2 hours this time, the 20k mark at last Septembers End to End was 2h 7m, and seeing as we were going steady and I was crocked after the Parish and Centurion within a few weeks before the race, it should be do-able. (Is “do-able” a real word? My spell check hasn’t frowned at me with its squiggly line so it must be.) I’ll be walking to work a few times, just over ten miles each way, under 2 hours with my rucksack for the legwork, some upper body stuff, and the “Old man of Coniston” mountain is 20 minutes drive away, 3000 feet, steep uphill all the way, and my best up there is just under an hour, for extreme cardio. I’ve let the stamina drop away a little over the winter as ordered by the Uni to help recovery, although after 4 years of training and taking part I’ve built up a good permanent stamina base on which to build so it shouldn’t take too long to get up to scratch. I’ve learnt lessons over the last 4 Parishes and intend to employ them. I’m almost down to my 2010 Parish weight, and can still drop a stone more so that should help, carrying 14lbs less will be a great help indeed!
So, the training is coming along, the knee is still a little fragile but nowhere near as bad as it was so I’m still hoping it clears up soon. So different to January 2009 when I was still walking 5 miles around the block as training, and little else. I’d coerced my cousin, Martin, to take part with me. He was active, a rugby league player and had done Marathons, and was a keen outdoorsman, the Lakes is one of his favourite areas and one of his greatest achievements was the Windemere row, a team of rowers go the length of windemere, 11 miles, then turn and row back. He’d also done many Iron Man races in the midlands, a winter assault course through mud, fields, fire, ditches, over walls and swims through icy waters, so a long walk was looking to be a simple challenge. Another one to tick off his list.
He stopped me walking around town and introduced me to some tough country walks round the Yorkshire Wolds. The tough but stunningly beautiful High Hunsley circuit to the west of Hull, at 25 miles taking in roads, farmland tracks and countryside has become one of my favourites. It takes in Brantingham hills where the Hull FC rugby team train, and they’re tough! We also did the Yorkshire Three Peaks in the April, just over 26 miles taking in the three highest peaks in Yorkshire. From the top of the second peak, Whernside, you can see the Lake district (Including Ulverston), and looks down on heysham, so we could watch the ferry sail whilst taking refreshments. All in all, better training for the task ahead!
He works during the day though, so I was still getting out during the day, then finishing up at his place after getting in ten miles or more first, then off out for another 5 or 10. Inside I felt much better and was confident on improving on my 45th place in 2008, and hopefully into the top 20. I was down to just under 14 stone and feeling good, I was also finding that driving out to the country and training was much more enjoyable so was putting in more training. Springtime in Yorkshire is amazing, and walking through a valley only accessible on foot, striding through a forest with the sun shining through the branches, or cresting a hill to look out over the Humber is a fine way to pass an afternoon. Much better than slumped on a settee flicking through the channels trying to find a programme to waste the afternoon away. Life’s too short.
If we were to make our way across to the island to compete together then Helen’s sofa was not the right option. We hunted round the accommodations but nowhere was available from Wednesday to Wednesday, only weekend to weekend which wouldn’t work for obvious reasons. It wasn’t looking good until martin’s wife Joanne, stumbled across a place up near Jurby which turned out to be Ideal. A Swiss style cottage with many bedrooms which was isolated enough, yet near to all amenities, which, given the size of the island is probably not that difficult. A few of us came across and settled in.
Swiss villa near Jurby, hardest part of the parish? Climbing to my upstairs room after walking 85 miles!
The Thursday before the race we decided to pack up and drive the course taking in the churches and side roads, and stopping at various beauty spots along the way. We set of at 10am, headed into Douglas, and got to the NSC. Down to the south of the Island, then up the sloc, stopping at Tom the Dippers lookout point for lunch. Peel by mid afternoon, making Jurby by about 4pm. Myself and Martin were in my car, his wife, mother and baby son in the other. At Jurby we stopped out and walked towards the others in their car. “Is this it?” His wife asked. “No, this is just over half way” I replied.
The looks on their faces showed what a massive undertaking it was.