Good afternoon, and most likely an afternoon that'll see hundreds of prospective parishers romping over hill and dale in that pursuit for race fitness. A stunning afternoon after the few days miserable rain and wind.
Last night, about 22:30, (half past ten to save you counting) I was out on the pilot launch into the Irish sea. It had been westerly gales for the previous two days so the seas were short and high (lots of big waves). We approached the Chartsman, a larg-ish tanker and he swung round to shelter us from the seas, unfortunately putting himself beam on to the seas so he was rolling. I reached up to grab the ladder so I could climb on board as the launch lifted onto a wave top. Grabbing with both hands, I lifted my leg up and stepped onto the rung as high as I could in case the launch lifted higher and trapped the ladder. unfortunately for me, most of my weight was on my left leg still on the launch, which at that moment dropped into a trough.
It dropped suddenly, and just as suddenly I found all my weight transferred to my right leg which was on the rung at waist height and unprepared for this sudden effort, and I felt something go in my right groin/upper quad.
What did I think?
If I let go I'll fall into the rough irish sea in the middle of the night?
I could get drawn into the spinning propeller and be gone forever?
Am I going to be able to pull myself up the twenty feet to get onto the deck, then up four flights of stairs to the bridge?
If I get to the bridge, will I be able to get the ship into port?
As you've probably guessed, my immediate thought was groin strain, possibly two to four weeks, that's the National 20k out, possibly the Olympic 20k trial, then the sudden realisation that the Parish is only 12 weeks away and that was in doubt. All this while hanging off the ladder. I hauled myself up, started climbing the ladder and felt it wasn't so bad. The stretching and training had paid off and I was left with a slight limp which had almost gone by the time she was tied up on her berth, and this morning it is just a slight pull when I stretch it. A couple of days at most which is probably not a bad thing as rest is important. I've been out on my bike this morning and that's no problem so biking to work tonight and tomorrow which is good fitness with just a few stretches and a protein shake to assist recovery.
I'm just thinking about what would have happened if I'd never entered my first Parish. I would possibly still be 3 or 4 stone overweight, unfit, blood pressure and cholesterol blocking most of my arteries, and the effort to pull myself up would have probably failed, most likely the strain would have triggered some sort of coronary and the stomach full of pies might well have taken me straight to the bottom.
So, people often ask why I do the Parish, all the other other races, and pursuits I now find normal, if demanding. The quality of life is probably the answer, the fact that I feel ten years younger, so much fitter, with much more stamina and experiences to look back on, as well as lots of new friends.
In twelve weeks time to the exact minute, (it's half past one on saturday afternoon) I'll be hopefully past ballakillowey and up the main part of sloc and approaching Peel, Pauline trying to keep up as she gets me to eat something, with another sixty miles to go, and there'll be a smile on my face because I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Twelve weeks. Time enough for anyone to go out and get fit enough to finish, or if you intend to get part way, plenty of time to prepare and plan for a finish in another year. You have to enter though, and if it's your first time, then hopefully it'll go on to future success and a better way of life as it has done for me.
Now get out there and enjoy the sunshine.