Tuesday, 31 May 2011

31st May 2011

What, me? In there? Are you sure??? I just saw Paula Radcliffe go in there, She'll just yell for security if she sees me...

      Well, what an amazing day.
            I travelled down on the train with my coach, Russ, who was one of the official eight judges, and some other Yorkshire race walk officials, not knowing what to expect, but finding myself more nervous than I've ever been for a race. It didn't help when Russ got out the starting line-up to show that athletes from all over the world had come to have a practise on the official 20k Olympic race course. Still, with a 2 hour qualifying time for the race there were half a dozen who were 1h 58 and slower so a good chance not to come last or make a fool of myself, which was my main aim.

With My coach at Trafalgar Square.

The olympic countdown clock, just checking how long I had if I managed to get lucky in the race, haha!

        We arrived before lunch and walked the 3 miles from Kings Cross to the Mall for a gentle warm up. After a brief photo op at trafalgar square by the time we got to the Mall the 10,000 metres run was close to finishing, so using our passes we got in to the athletes area to watch Paula Radcliffe come in third. The atmosphere was indescribable, an estimated 15,000 people lined the course and the starting line up for the 20k walk seemed to keep them there. The Chinese had sent their full team over, world record holders, gold medallists, all around 1h 20 to 1h 30 times. There were record holders from USA, Portugal, Honduras, France, Ireland amongst others and the Ladies were similarly represented with, amongst others, the Commonwealth Gold medallist Joanna Jackson, a 1h 30 walker.

The Chinese arrive for a stroll of the course.

             As readers of my blog know, I have trouble at the start of these short races warming up properly, so getting changed with the chinese, I strolled out with them and mirrored their warm up, after all, who better to warm up with than the world record holder! I gave my camera to a friend who stood in the crowd to get me walking with Buck House in the background, so didn't get a chance for a photo with Paula Radcliffe who seemed pretty despondant with her race. A video camera would have been good, seeing my name up on the big scoreboard, the introduction to the crowd (Gold medallist, world champion, Commonwealth gold, Olympic champion, not helping the nerves...) Still, to be announced as a National 10 mile gold medallist with Yorkshire and a long distance expert new to shorter distances was nice. Standing chatting to John Constandinou, editor of Race walking record magazine, we glanced up to see our names on the huge scoreboard with GBR, along with the other world athletes and even he agreed it just seemed unreal.
          Still inexperienced, I usually get caught up with the occasion in any race and try and keep up with the leaders, but as I looked the bunch stood in front of me I knew that would be futile. I decided to walk an 11 minute mile for the first lap (2k, 10 laps) and see how it goes, walk my own race.
         We were off, and the heat and sunshine of mid afternoon had gone and it was now overcast.
They're off. I'm in the middle of the second bunch.

               The warm up seemed to work. I didn't look at my garmin and kept to a comfortable pace, the warm up seemed to work fine, and when the first mile beeped, I glanced down and saw with surprise it was 9 minutes. I kept that pace up for the next four miles, others were moving on ahead, but I stuck to my guns and kept the pace.

Me, and the Queens Gaff.

           Half an hour in, it started to rain. Unfortunately for me I had worn my race shoes which are fine in the dry but tend to slip in the wet. I started to lose purchase on the wet surface and dropped 15 to 30 seconds a mile, but kept the same pace. 5 miles in, I started picking off the walkers who had gone off early. My coach knew what was going on, saw that I had slowed a little. He said I did a sub 55 for the 10k, I forgot to look up at the clock over the start finish line, missed so much really as there was so much to take in. Still, a sprint down the final 400 metres which was coned off for effect, and with a cheer of the crowds which was indescribable, crossed over in just over 1h 54, nearly 4 minutes off my PB, which came up on the big screen :-
          "NUMBER 7 DIANE BRADLEY - 1h 54 - PB"

       Thanks! Hey Mister Marshall! Do I look like a Diane?????

       My coach said that up to halfway he had me for a sub 1h 52 until it started raining, so more reason to be pleased. I still had something left in the tank as well, inexperience again, I didn't want to burn out and lose places at the end. About half a dozen walkers who had finished in front of me at the national 20k  a few weeks ago were now coming in behind me, so up a few places in the rankings. I originally thought this would be a distraction from Parish training with only a few weeks to go, but for the experience gained, it was invaluable. Also a day to remember for the rest of my life. 

      It was exactly a year and a day since I rolled up in Bradford to take part in my first serious race, no club and no decent racing record, only allowed to take part because I had travelled there in hope. On that day I had a record of three Parishes, with a best of 15th and a time of just under 18 hours, something I hoped I would better in time and the Bradford 35k was just a warm up for the next Parish. If you had told me I would be on the same bill as the numerous world class athletes in an Olympic qualifying race within a year I would have laughed at you. I have shelves full of trophies and medals now, the National gold for the 10 mile probably my proudest, and memories to last a lifetime. It just goes to show what a little determination can do. I was going to say self belief, but that's still something I'm still desperately short of.

       I just say to everyone out there that whatever you do on the race day, there is always scope for improvement. If a 44 year old, 17 stone couch potato with blood pressure, back trouble and high cholesterol can turn into an "elite athlete" (snigger) sharing facilities with Olympic and World Record holders and gold medallists, and be taken seriously, there is hope for all of you.
      Apart from that I didn't do much over the weekend.

A good cardio workout if nothing else...

            Just the one Manx athlete, Lauren Whelan in the junior ladies 10k, I spoke to her before the race but she seemed distracted, probably the occasion, probably the strange man chatting to her, and I don't know where she came. I still don't know where I came in the British 20k mens which was one of the races which was being contested.  
           Tired but pleased with the day, the train journey home seemed an anti climax, and out for a quick 5 mile walk this morning seemed a bit of a let down, but it's back to Parish training in the morning, and new hope for a sub 5 hour time in the 50k Nationals in October. Then I can retire. Or maybe not. This last year has been amazing, new friends, new experiences, and that niggly back problem I had for years seems to have gone now. 
        Got to lose more weight though for next year, I thought I was light enough, but my coach mentioned the front runners, especially the 1h 20 minute guys, that he could see daylight between their feet and the ground with a few DQ's, I just said I could see daylight between the world record holders ribs, he carried so little weight!  
A long day.

Friday, 27 May 2011

27th May 2011.

      Less than a calendar month to go, four weeks exactly come eight a.m tomorrow morning. I'm taking it easy before monday although doing nothing makes me feel bloaty and weak as I can imagine all bits of my body gradually shutting down and failing. I'm not normally this nervous before races but a friend who works in London recieved a tourist leaflet promoting bank holiday weekend events and the Mall 20k race walk was somewhere in the middle, "go along and watch the athletes warming up for the olympics on the Olympic course, free to watch" said the slogan. The Parish is unique in the UK as pretty much everyone watches the race at some point giving it a spectator count of tens of thousands in total along the whole route, while race walking in the UK is slightly less popular, one 10k race I was in during the winter doubled its spectator count from last year when the bloke brought his dog! This is going to be watched by people expecting proper olympic walkers, not me, gasping and wheezing at the back.
      Still, I'm just going for the experience, hoping I don't make a fool of myself. A nice day out. I've not really prepared for it as I should, getting onto a track doing interval training etc. I'm training for the Parish so long hill walks at just over Parish speeds to build up stamina. This gives me an excuse for a few days rest which I wouldn't normally have done so maybe it's for the best. I still have a dull ache in the abductor so a few stretches and protein shakes with 3 days still to go. I went out for a gentle tourist walk on the canal and morecambe bay, slow enough so that you don't get short breathed and sweaty, stopping every ten minutes to admire the scenery, a walk along the beach. Pleasant enough, and a nice distraction. I was on standby for a ship at 6am, which cancelled at the last minute so still had to pay for my services but I didn't have to go in. getting paid to do nothing, nice work if you can get it...


Parish 2010 part 2.

           So, the car had broken down, it was warm, and I pushed on to the demanding sloc section, still intent on keeping in touch with the leaders. I wasn’t to know that Pauline had gone into super hurricane mode, rushing around to sort things out. In my mind she’d gone off and was gabbing to others, passing the time of day, or stopped for lunch somewhere leaving me high and dry, quite literally dry in the warm conditions. For anyone contemplating a first finish this year, that’s a normal reaction. If you don’t see your support for ten minutes, your imagination runs wild and you imagine all kinds of things going against you and have all kinds of angry speeches ready to rant. Then when you see them, they ask “you okay?” and you reply “Yeah, fine thanks”
       I had Robbie Callister in my sights, pushed on up Ballakillowey, and at the bottom of the sloc could see Jock halfway up and the others dotted at distances behind him so I wasn’t far behind. When Pauline eventually got to me, I think she had bummed a lift in Robbie’s back up car, she explained what had happened, gave me a drink, and then went off to get Helen’s car which was in Peel then try and catch up with me again. Unfortunately, the one way system on the sloc put in place to protect the walkers meant that she had to drive around the south of the Island to get my gear from Rushen and the broken car, a long and arduous task. I should have eased back, saved energy and lowered my heart rate to ready myself for the intermittent supply line, but felt I was strong enough to go on at speed. It was to come back to me later when dehydration meant I never really recovered after Peel, although thanks to my warm weather training I'd done I wasn't in as bad a condition as I could have been.
        It was strange on the sloc at that time, Manx radio was reporting on hundreds of walkers, but there were few cars on the sloc itself, eerily quiet. It was a little misty on the lower sloc which kept it cooler, by the time the main bunch of walkers had got onto the climb that had cleared.
        By Peel, in under 6 hours, and I was suffering a little. The thing about dehydration is that it takes a while to rehydrate, especially if you keep pushing on at a good pace. I completely missed my father who had been listening to the race and had driven out to greet me in, he was standing at the entrance to the town hall and I was a couple of feet from him and didn't see him at all. Another effect of dehydration, concentrating on the job at hand and completely missing everything else around you. He’d been listening to the radio commentary and even though I had been 5th for most of the way, I was referred to as “Jock, Michael, Robbie Mark and another one!” “Him again,” “A N Other,” and on the sloc itself when someone had got out a programme and checked my name, “Rich Spence”. It didn’t bother me but my dad wanted to ring up and spell out my name to them. You know what dads are like... 
         Towards Ballaugh I was struggling, despite eating some soup and drinking plenty of water once Pauline had sorted things out. My pulse was up to 170 even though I was taking it steady. My walking style suffered as I lost concentration, and by Jurby my right heel started to blister, right in the middle on the bottom of the heel. Speaking to Richard Gerrard afterwards, he said he passed me and I seemed in a semi daze. I certainly don’t remember him passing me. It was hot, Pauline had got me a tea towel and soaked it to put around my neck and I carried on taking on liquids. By this time I was limping as the blister on my heel was spreading. Slowly but steadily. At Bride towards evening it cooled down, and the wind was in our faces. I started to recover from the dehydration but was now struggling with my heel, still limping, and approaching Lazayre the blister spread enough so that it was against the hard skin at the back of my heel which was quite painful. I was even contemplating stopping. I was now seventh, and walking slower, with walkers behind catching up.
      At Lazayre, Pauline got me a pot of cold fresh fruit, water melon, peaches, apple and berries, which was a great help, some painkillers eased the foot a little, and at Lezayre itself, Robbie was sat watching the world go by in the evening sunlight.
      “You okay?” I asked.
      “Just giving you as head start…” he replied with a smile.

      It was the incentive I needed. I was sixth again, I could live with that, and with renewed confidence I pushed on.
      On the climb up to Maughold I was escorted by Pauline, Helen had joined us in her friends car, and Liz Corran was also showing concern, despite having a whole race to keep an eye on. I was met at Maughold by a warm cup of tea and a medical team from the coastguard who had heard an appeal on the radio for medical assistance as I was limping quite noticeably. The blister was deep under the skin on the base of the heel, and sitting down twisted with my foot in the air was not at all comfortable with rapidly cooling down muscles cramping up. It couldn’t be lanced as it was too deep, a recurrence of the original deep blister from 2007, and any attempt to wrap it up was proving pointless. A watcher pointed out that the man behind me was coming up the hill and was about 5 minutes behind, so to keep my sixth place, I slapped a handful of Vaseline on the heel, took some more painkillers, a large gulp of tea and off I went.

     I’d like to say thanks to the brave men of the coastguard who probably had their toughest assignment in years in even approaching my sweaty feet after walking 67 miles. Without breathing apparatus or radioactive protection suits.
     The next few hours went in a blur, just limping to stay in sixth, once again falling into my trap of defending the place I’ve got instead of trying to gain places, but this time I had good reason.
     At the Liverpool Arms I knew it was an hour to go, and as it was before midnight, I knew at least a seventeen hour/5mph finish was possible, despite the ten or fifteen minute stop at Maughold. Helen had gone on to watch the finish, and told Pauline that my 79 year old Dad had come to watch me finish, which gave me an added spur.

     I got my sixth place, sub 17 hours, 16h 51m 34s, partly pleased, partly disappointed. But I’d crossed the line, which is very Parish walker’s first target. Get over the line.

Sky tv kindly went down to 6th to fit me in.

            When you get over the line, get your hands around that hot cuppa knowing the months of training have paid off and you've acheived your personal goal, have no more walking to do for the foreseeable future, can have a pint and a kebab without guilt, and are going to get that finishers trophy to remind you of what you've achieved every time you look at it sitting on the shelf, it's a feeling that can't be described.

             When I did my first Parish, I finished in 21 hours 30 minutes and 7 seconds. That was going to be it, I'd been there, done it, got the t-shirt. I'd actually muttered the parish walkers promise of "never again" on crossing the line. Later, when I could finally walk again, I calculated that I'd done it at 3.85mph, and 4mph was 21h 15 mins, which got me thinking, could I have been any faster? They say the Parish is like having a baby, when the pain, agony and injuries have all gone, then you want to do it again. 
          My second, the joint finish with Michael Bonney, was next, 20h 7mins. Yes, obviously, We were seven minutes from a sub 20 hours finish. If we had finished 8 minutes earlier then maybe I wouldn't have done it again, but a finish time with a 1 at the start was calling. 15th place in my third knowing things had gone wrong and I could do better, and last year I looked at my race and realised a 16 hour race is possible which is why I'm back. I've checked my holidays for next year and see I have June off, so maybe that'll be my last, I have to move on and do something else. Finishing the Parish has been a springboard for me, from couch potato to looking for new challenges. Wainwrights coast to coast first, I have a few friends who are up for that one, then lands end to John o groats, a month off to make it happen. A friend of mine is involved in the windemere relay tonight, a team doing over 200 km along the length of windemere non stop for four days to break the world record. I've always fancied the idea of swimming the channel. The number of times I've taken a ship through the dover straits whilst attempts have been going on. In reality, these would have been daunting targets before 2007, but I now think, if I can walk 85 miles in under 17 hours, why can't I do anything?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

26th May 2011

Parish 2010. Part 1.

       I’d moved into Ulverston in March 2010, and immediately started Parish training in the southern Lakes, walking into work, exploring the fells and lakes, (I say exploring, others had already done it, I was just checking on their exploring) and making progress in my fitness. When I put my entry in I was being realistic in looking for a sub 17hr time, which would most likely get a top ten finish. 17 hours is a landmark type target because it’s average 5mph, an impressive overall speed. Hopefully Pauline had already gained some experience from 2009 when she was taken by surprise in finding it wasn’t stopping for picnics and pleasant ambling in the Manx countryside, and had planned motivation rather than catch up.

       I was resting the couple of days prior to the race, full of self-doubt as usual, lying on Helen’s sofa watching telly when I turned over to get more comfortable and felt something go in my back. More self-doubt, more anxiety as I’d already had my massage from Dawne, she was busy and couldn’t fit me in at late notice. I’d already had worries about my groin on the left side, my feet were blistered during the Bradford a month earlier, and although healed, it was fresh healing so cause to worry. So, physically, I was in an ever decreasing spiral of niggly pain.

       Friday afternoon was spent checking and re-checking the stuff for the support car. On Thursday and Friday morning I had set the alarm for 5am, so I was tired early Thursday and Friday evening (a good tip, you have to get up early Saturday so condition yourself to sleep and get up early but refreshed)
       Saturday morning was a quick breakfast whilst making the first round of soups and tea’s in flasks. As Helen and Pauline live in Peel, it’s very handy for topping up mid afternoon as we pass through. Some drinks can stay in the fridge to be plucked cold for mid afternoon use, and hot flasks can be topped up.
       We set off for the start, loud rock music in the car, sing along, helps nerves and builds adrenaline, and then the panic attack at 7.20, passing Union Mills, I turned to Pauline.
     “I’ve forgotten something”
     “What? Spare socks? Lucky charm? Phone? Spare head??”
     “My dibber.” I’d put all my gear in a bag ready for changing, gone to the bathroom, taken everything out and left it on the sink by the taps. Possibly the worst thing to forget, thinking about it.
     Cue violent U-turn, screech of tyres and keystone cops drive back to Peel. Pauline had trained as a taxi driver so all her driving was legal…
     We arrived with ten minutes to spare, and I worked my way into the crowd at the start line. Thanks to the kind people who saw my low number and ushered me to the front, I got a good starting position. Being at the front unfortunately meant that when I started to “rearrange the furniture down below” in preparation for the long trek ahead it was caught on Sky’s cameras for all to see, especially to the amusement of my family and friends who delighted in using sky+ to full use, rewind, play, rewind, play to the calls of “leave it alone!"               
                        On the startline, cameraman's builders crack a handy place to park your bicycle...

     I turned my phone onto Manx radio to get coverage, one headphone in, and Roger Black counted down with the crowd, 3….2…..1…. Go!

          I then had a surreal moment. I started, there seemed to be total silence and I could see nobody. For what was really a couple of seconds but seemed like weeks, I had the awful impression that I had set off on my own and over 1600 people were watching me hurry round the track while they stood on the start line watching me with utter bemusement. Then a feeling of utter relief as I saw Michael George out of the corner of my eye coming up on my left, and a quick glance showed that everyone was moving. For ten seconds or so, I was leading. Not my intention, but all plans I had up until then had vanished and I got drawn into Michael’s scheme. He was off at race walk speed and was dragging some of us with him.

3rd place so far, 420 metres gone, 84.7 miles to go. It's only now when you see the 1600 plus walkers stretched out, you see the magnitude of the Parish walk, the sheer numbers taking part

                My inexperience was not doing me any favours, and I spent the next couple of hours keeping in touch with the early leaders, forgetting that the race is 85 miles, not 5 or ten. Michael Bonney e-mailed me an excel file later showing pretty much where I’d gone wrong.

          The  “Too fast!!” was Michael Bonney’s comment, completely correct but about a week too late to be of any help. The average of 5.7mph to Rushen was the result of being dragged along with the leaders. For the few weeks before, I had hoped that a sub 16 hour race was possible if everything went according to plan. 16 hours is another big milestone, finishing on the same day, the Saturday night instead of the Sunday morning. Everything had to go right. Unfortunately, it was at Rushen that Pauline’s car decided it wanted the afternoon off and chucked its clutch, totally unforeseen. Rushen before noon was the plan, and I was there at 11.20 so plenty of time to spare, and I was feeling good so set of at the same speed to take advantage of my good start and try and get as much spare time under my belt, unaware of my lack of support. I'd walked to Peel before in my first two Parishes but that was much slower burning far fewer calories and losing much less body fluid.  
         The Parish is about a long day where everything has to go right when so much can go wrong. This was the first bad luck of the day for me.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

25th May 2011

Why Cardio?

        I've had a couple of pieces of correspondance, a text and an e-mail, which means only one thing. there are still some people out there reading this rubbish! Only joking, or am I??
        Both messages asked, Why Cardio? Why concentrate on the heart rate when it's the legs that'll be doing the work. First the graph.

          This is one of the graphs from the university tests from last year. I think I printed this earlier in the blog, but i've written so much i don't have time to check back. No matter. On the left is heart rate, on the right, the last two columns, are fat burned as fuel to maintain work rate, and calories burned. It shows that the faster you go, the higher the heart rate and the more calories burned to achieve that HR. Now if it was a steady rate of increase, the distance gained by the higher speed would be compensated by the extra calories burned, but, as you can see, the difference between 10kph and 12 kph is just over 300 calories, over a third more calories burned for a fifth more speed.
          On my first 10k in November, I did 6mph for just over 60 minutes, and burned 1195 calories. In April, I did the Jeff Ford 10k in Sheffield, 6.5mph, burned 924 calories. Nearly 250 less for the hour and a faster time. In a long race such as the parish these calories have to be replaced. This is the result of cardio training, the heart is stronger so it has to work less to achieve the same output. Working the heart at these higher rates means at slower Parish speeds, the curve of the graph means you probably burn up to a third less calories, which, overall, means stuffing less food down your throat when you don't feel like it.

         I was up really early this morning, 4am on board for sailing, but was back home at 7am for the rest of the day so out for another quick Cardio session. The pain in my hip has focussed in the abductor, not a nickname for a kidnappers van but the muscle on the inner thigh from the knee up to the place inside where the sun don't shine, where a tailor measures to for the inside leg measurement. This stops race walking, the hip swing uses this muscle, so normal walking only. I walked the 10 miles into work yesterday afternoon again, speeding up on a power walk, and managed 1h 50m, and felt nothing from the abductor. This morning's Cardio was up the steep hill and I wanted to see if yesterday's passing of the cattle grid was a one off, and was surprised to pass yesterdays mark by another 50 yards, so improving daily.

               So, improving, and getting further than last year. And the average heart rate you can see is 138, which is upo and down again, just up was 155, when last year it was nudging 170, so cardio working good.
           I was back by eight, showered and re-hydrated by ten past, and back in bed by 8.30. Still tired as I'd been up early. Still, up by eleven and out again, nothing on telly and it was fine and cool outside and I had a couple of good podcasts to listen to. I was just going to do my 8.5 mile. Averaging 10mins a mile over hilly ground (and, most pleasing, overtaking a cyclist on a steep uphill section, he passed me on the down slope and shouted "Good speed you've got there mate!) went round again, although down to 10m 30s a mile, then, glad that I'd brought enough water, one more lap to make it 25.5 miles, just over 4h 38m. A reasonably long one that I'd been putting off for a while, but is necessary in Parish training. I only stopped because I'd run out of water and Barack Obamas famous speech to Parliament was on telly. In the end, after the initial joke, it just turned into mumbling and I ended up flicking through this months copy of Viz. I'll read about it tomorrow. Weighed myself though, after the 25 mile, and was a couple of pounds down on last year, although re-hydrating with pints of tea afterwards would have repleced some of that. I'll try the weight loss until a couple of weeks before the big day, then keep it steady. not a good idea to try and lose a few pounds in the fortnight before the Parish, especially if your doing a full circuit. It's a time of rest and recovery, all injuries will be needing full nutrition to aid quick and efficient healing.

       Right now though, one more cardio session in the morning, then rest until mondays race. A few of us are meeting on the train down to London so it'll be a nice day out. There's no real pressure, I'm never going to meet the 90 mins qualifying time unless I can use a motorbike, so a good chance to be able to watch it next year with friends and nod wisely saying "Nice course that, I raced on it recently." No doubt ducking as they throw things at me.
             Above is the route of Mondays race, it looks about 2km a lap so ten laps, and lots of long straights, shelter from any wind the trees in the mall. I can just imagine the Queen on her mobile peering round the net curtains in Buckingham Palace saying "Police? There's a strange looking Northerner keeps walking past the front yard. Yes, he's a northerner, he's only wearing a vest. Ten times now in the last couple of hours. Can you deport him back to the North? Thank you."
           In all other races I've heard the same mantra, "on a good course you would have done blah, blah etc." Well, it seems this is a good course, just dependant on the weather. I'm just hoping I'm not way out the back, last. As long as it's not embarrassing, it is a 2 hour qualifying time race which I only scraped through by three minutes so I'll be close to the back, but it's for the experience. A couple of good pictures for the scrap book'll do me, race walking with Buck House in the background. That's if the Abductor clears up enough, it is easing so a few days rest might be enough. And stretching, and lots of protein shakes, and a little massage, and pain killers, and hopefully crossing of fingers.
        I'll try anything if someone says it'll work.

    Sayonara Dudes!

Monday, 23 May 2011

23rd May 2011

          A very windy day, how many of the 1700+ got out for a training walk in these conditions? I was up at 7am to do my cardio session, taking my own advice of a short session before breakfast and a long one later to boost fat burning. It was still only light rain and the winds hadn't picked up yet. I was undecided whether to have a rest day or not after yesterdays race, but felt fine this morning. So, the usual thirty minutes up the 3 mile/300 metre climb, pushed on, and for the first time got to the cattle grid 2.7 miles up! I've only ever got to within 30 yards of it in the 30 minutes from the door of the flat, so to get 50 yards past it was a good feeling, especially as my pulse had only peaked at just under 160 on one of the steeper bits. Then, back down before the 55 minute mark, so a good session.
         Parish walkers I've spoken to seem to be in two groups. One lot want to do it tomorrow, are fed up of waiting, and feel nothing else can be done. Get it out of the way, so to speak. The others feel that they still need months more training and that still might not be enough. I flit from one camp to the other as different things happen. I'm sure I've been doing things right, but don't feel confident about the second half of the race. Preparation has to be perfect, everything has to go right, and I know I'm changing things this year which is not always a good idea, although I've got time to work things out and test new ideas.
        The walk into work was wet and windy, just distance work, but I can't help pushing on, and half a mile from work I felt something go in my left hip. Not sure what it was exactly, but the hip swing of race walking was impossible as a sharp pain went through the hip on every step. At this point I went into the second group, I need another six months at least. Realistically it's just my body saying I was overdoing it, have a nights rest and see it improve in the morning. At the back of the mind I was envisaging hip operations and never race walking again. A tiny part of me wanted my old life of a couch potato, guinness in hand, ordering a kebab on the phone, but that way a heart attack beckons, and I swap athletics injuries for bad back and chest pains.
       I got the train home, you know it's a decent distance to walk when the train has two stops between work and home, and it was the first time in my 14 months here that I had caught the train. It was lucky I was close to work and not up a mountain or middle of the countryside. It is a good idea to have a back up in case of injury. I remember in 2007 I was walking along the River Hull towards Beverley when I stood in a rabbit hole and got a calf strain. I don't know if any of you out there have suffered this injury but it basically feels like you've been shot in the back of the leg as something in the muscle painfully snaps. I had to limp 3 miles home, and friends told me later they saw me walking and looked in distress, but left me because I was training and it was good for me! Since then I compromise and always carry my mobile phone.

       Someone asked me, with 4 weeks of training left, what should they concentrate on. I would definitely say cardio. It's the heart that pumps the blood that supplies the oxygen and fuel to the muscles and takes away the waste, so if time's limited, a couple of 30 minute cardio sessions a week and a long walk at weekends. Cardio is easy, just running up and down the stairs can raise the heart rate enough to be helpful if you can't find a steep hill close by to run up and down.

       Got to go now, Corry's on soon.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

22nd may 2011

Pictured with the Isle of Man juniors representing the North of England in the Inter Area games at Tamworth.

          Good Afternoon.
                   I'm not long back from Tamworth, just north of Birmingham, where the Annual Inter Area race Walk games took place today. The North, with the above Manx contingent included in the junior 3, 5 and 10k races, came a close second to the Midlands. they basically won because they were on home ground and could score points in every race whereas us from Oop North were short in a few races which we would have scored points. I'm not a bitter loser...
            Conditions were not great with a very strong cross wind along the straight and a buffeting head wind in the final bend. I don't know any of the results from the Manx walkers, it seemed pretty hectic and more than one race was being run at a time, so all the 3k, 5k and 10k races were lumped together, but they seemed happy with their all. I'm sure their exploits will be done justice on manxathletics.com 

           I did a 56.30 for the 10k, and, once again, was told it was an improvement despite conditions. It was my first all track race, 25 laps, and as a lot of the field were 50 to 55 min walkers it was a good opportunity to race against better opposition who I had a chance of keeping up with. I was told that a track 10k was 1 and a half to 2 minutes slower than a road 10k because over a third of it is on bends which means you have to  short step on your left foot for a third of the race. Secondly, the wind was strong to gale force which buffeted you as a crosswind on the back straight and slowed you right up on the second bend. all in all, if I find enough excuses I can knock off enough minutes here and there to claim a new world record. I did finish in front of a couple of walkers who are regular 54m finishers and who I've never beaten yet, so despite the time, I've got to be pleased.
          One thing I do know, 10k is not my distance. Up to 6k, I was struggling with pain in my calves, a little in my shins despite the warm up massage, aching quads, back and shoulders. At 6k, I was wondering if I could finish. At 7k, it had all pretty much gone and I could stride on and speed up. By the end of the race I was just nicely warmed up and could have gone on again. So, this creaky old frame takes a while to warm up, and 10k races, despite another half decent time (for an old man) 10k's remain training walks for longer distances to gain speed.

        Back to Parish training tomorrow, a quick 5 mile cardio in the morning up the hill, morning training before breakfast gets the metabolism working and are great for fat burning, then a walk to work and back, although the weather forecast says 70mph winds. It'll be difficult as I can't hear my mp3 player when it's windy. Next week it's the Mall 20k, lots of excellent walkers going to that one, and I think I'm one of the slowest at 1h57m, so lots of Ironic clapping as I walk in 20 minutes after the winners, but everyone keeps telling me I should be quicker on a good course, and if the Olympic course is not a good course, then it looks like I'll spend the rest of my life like Indiana Jones in search of the Mythical Perfect Course. You watch, knowing my luck the Mall will be excellent, and it'll be either torrential rain, 100mph winds, or 100 degrees in the shade. 

      One positive from today, I got a new vest to keep. The North should have a badge of a flat cap with crossed whippets, with the Northern motto of  "Ow much???"

       On a final note, the Bradford Whit Walk, a tough 35k usually held around whit weekend, and known as the oldest continuous race walk in the world, around 135 years, has been re-arranged due to the clash with the Olympic test race next Monday. It'll now be held on 31st July, and gives me a chance to defend my 3rd place in the middle of what was supposed to be a rest period for me. 

       31st July, nice and hot for a four hour race...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

21st May 2011

            5 weeks to go.
             Good morning, and what a windy, drizzly miserable day it is. Weather watchers will realise that the gulfstream is late shifting this year. The warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico works it's way across the Atlantic towards Europe and as it hits the cold air coming down from thae Arctic it develops into low pressure areas which brings wind and rain. This band is narrow, High pressure to the North and the South. Now, during spring, this low pressure band moves north and passes over Britain, gradually, over a few weeks. This gives us our "April showers" before the High pressure areas move up and give us our warm sunny summer days. I'm glad I listened in meteorology lessons.
         As you can probably guess, this is all messed up, natural climate change, which means that the North of England, mostly this area (including the Lake District and the Isle of Man) are in a wet and windy patch which sems to have lasted a few weeks so far, yet the south east of England have reports that they have less rainfall than the Sahara Desert. I'm keeping an eye on it, when the High pressure areas start moving off to the north then we'll start to get the long hot sunny days we all want to enjoy. If they don't move up, then we'll have a wet and miserable summer similar to the last 3 years. There were signs showing movement last year which was why I did some warm weather training, i.e. wrap up warm in hot weather to raise body temperature and so acclimatise the body ready for a warm race. 5 weeks is too early to predict whether the race will be hot or wet, especially as warm dry weather is only a couple of hundred miles to the south, but a couple of weeks will start to give us a clue. On my best guess, windy and rain, but warm temperatures so lightweight waterproofs, unless high pressure areas start moving in in the next 2 or 3 weeks.
          So a good chance for everyone to get out training today, warmish, with the wind and showers that will be possible on the day, it's all about training in conditions that will be prevalant during the race. I'll be resting today before driving down to Tamworth tomorrow for the inter area 10k. It's race conditions, every race like this is giving me more experience, and more high speed training (well, high speed for me, and compared to my parish speeds) It's an hour so there won't be too much damage, so I should be able to get out for light recovery training on monday, and a planned weeks training before the Olympic test 20k on the Mall a week on Monday. It isn't essential I do well in that one, but it will give me an indication of how my training is coming on. Last year I trained solidly right up to the parish for 3 months, walking daily, and I think I peaked a month earlier in the Bradford whit walk. I'm doing different types of training this year, every Parish brings more experience, and race walk training has, hopefully, improved my economy and speed, as well as kept away injuries. Rest days like this are difficult for me to do, and occasional races where I have to rest beforehand and recover afterwards give me the incentive to rest.

        One difference for me this year is that I'm trying to make every training session useful. Last year I walked every day thinking it was essential when it was often giving me little benefit. Lots of you will be out training today and tomorrow, remember to make it worthwhile. Training should be done at an intensity to make your body work enough to improve overall fitness. You should be walking at a speed to get an average heart rate at about 80% of maximum. Maximum is 220 minus your age, so if you are 30, 220 minus 30 is 190, then 80% about 150 to 160. This will tire the muscles, develop waste and lactic acid in the muscles that the heart will have to work slightly harder to clear. The bloodstream will have to work harder to deliver oxygen. The longer you walk, the quicker the stored glycogen levels will be used up, so body fat reserves will be eaten into. The body has to learn how to use stored body fat as fuel, especially in people who have been relatively dormant, but the good news is that once it starts, it keeps it up, the metabolism changes because the body knows it has to fuel up. If you don't have a heart rate monitor (they are available second hand on ebay for less than £20) then when you're out walking, do so at a speed that makes you slightly out of breath. If you are out walking with a friend, then conversation should be at such a rate that you have to take a breath every few words. You should be sweating, that means the muscles are working enough that you are warmed up nicely, and the body has to cool down. If you are walking and not getting tired then you aren't benefiting from it.
        To improve your training, every 5 or 10 minutes, have a quick session. Pick out a tree or lamp post a couple of hundred yards ahead and walk towards it as quick as you can, and ten minutes later, try and do it a bit quicker. This type of training will improve your stamina and speed as it improves muscle fibres, making them tougher.

        Before training, stretching and warming up. Don't go straight out and start walking at speed because the muscles are cold and could cramp up. Try walking up the stairs a few times, just gently at first, to get the heart rate up and blood circulating ready for the off. Stretching will straighten muscle fibres and allow more range of movement so preventing injury.  When you start your training walk, start off slowly and build up speed.
        Afterwards, recovery is vital. slow down a half a mile or a mile from home to allow the heart rate to gently drop back to normal. This lets the bloodstream deal with muscle waste instead of leaving it in the muscles. Stretching post training helps this waste to clear and helps recovery. Re-hydrate and take on protein. The amino acids in protein help repair muscle damage quicker so reducing recovery time.

        Make the training work for you, and come the day, you'll enjoy it so much more, and you'll have a better chance of reaching your goal.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

19th May 2011

          A busy couple of days, even though Hull's flat and grey, and people laugh and point if you try and race walk in the street so just brisk walking trying to keep 5.5mph when moving. After getting home on Monday, I got up early Tuesday with an agenda to get as much done as possible, with walks between each visit/appointment. I started off by making a couple of mixes of food and drinks that I'll be using during the parish, and planned to use them sparingly throughout the day. You only need to take in half of what you need as a lot of the necessary fuel will already be in the body as glycogen and stored fat. Visiting friends though, lots of cuppas were drunk, and when you're on a strict diet it's suprising how many friends start offering bacon butties, cakes, buns, or whatever is available. It seems that everyone has some food on standby for visitors just on the off chance. I got fed up explaining why I was turning down their hob nobs or french fancies.
          So, by the end of the day I had 27 miles under my belt, mostly in lumps of 3 to 6 miles, and had taken in only tea, water or watery food which seemed thin and offered little in the way of substance, but appeared to do the job. I felt neutral, neither bloated or hungry, although it was feed every hour or so to make sure I had a steady fuel supply.
        Wednesday morning was check up time, no results yet, but I know my weight is similar to last year, just under 13 stone, but Body Fat is down from 17% to just over 14%, with muscle mass changing in the opposite direction which can only be good, but still very heavy with 1st 9lb of fat to lug the 85 miles. I need to drop another 5 or 6 pounds in the next few weeks if I can, but fat loss at this late stage can have an adverse effect on muscle mass if done too quickly.
        Wednesday afternoon it was down to the track for interval training. 3 laps at about 6mph, then 1 lap as quickly as possible, then repeat 10 times. You are left gasping for breath and with painful muscles, but the idea is not to recover completely so working on strengthening the muscle fibres. It didn't feel too bad as I walked home the couple of miles. A good protein shake to aid muscle recovery, then walk into town as we had tickets for the comedian Milton Jones at City Hall. Very funny, he's the wild haired guy off Mock the Week.
        I walked home, its about an hour, and that's where I felt the effects of the track work as my knees were trembling and threatening to give way beneath me at times, so today was a rest day, protein and carbs on a 50-50 mix (steak and chips...) and a light walk tomorrow in preparation for the inter area 10k on Sunday.

       Looking at the Parish starting line up, if I've got it right I'll be number 10 on the day, which is a shame, I was hoping for a single number because it'll be less ink on the number to carry round... all the weight of that ink adds up, you've got to manage every ounce! It's a step up for me every year, 674, 74, 63 then 30 and now probably 10. When the number starts going up again, that'll be time to give up and try something else.

       One last thing today. I put in a previous blog that if you entered just to show off to mates then you had to start by decree from the House of Keys by order of the new law passed to stop time wasters. Clearly this was jesting and most (yes, most) people knew this was written in jest. Except for one, er, person, who shall remain unnamed. I was asked in all seriousness when this law was passed and just in case there are others out there who didn't realise it was a joke, it was a joke. The MHK's are far too busy planning and preparing the 85 miles of fresh new pavement on the parish course in non slip green cushioned tarmac to stop people skidding, with arrows to stop walkers going the wrong way. I'm sure you'll agree, a much more important and worthy cause.

Monday, 16 May 2011

16th May 2011

1 second to go. Unusual how so many people wait until the last minute.

           So, if you're not in by now, too late. 1,755 brave souls, and me, commited to another 5 and a bit weeks of training and frustration wondering if they've done enough. I stayed up to watch, and I'm sure Murray must have come close to wearing out his laptop, the way he blogged away the dozens who waited until the last minute before committing. Last minute doubts? It looks good if you go to the pub and tell your mates "I tried, but it was too busy taking final day entries, the whole internet packed up and I couldn't enter" before pushing your acting skills to the limit by lowering your head and with a quivering catch in your voice declare "I'm gutted. All that training so far, this was going to be my year..."
        Well, unlucky, you got in and will join the 1700+ at the start. And for all those who entered whilst drunk in front of your mates (damn those smart phones and pub wifi!) Well, the House of Keys have passed a law stating that if you apply for the Parish then you must take part, apparently it's deception, or fraud or something, and you can only get out of it with a doctors note or if you raise £500 for charity.
        Still, think of how much fitter you'll be, how much better off as you give up those boozy nights, and how your lungs are going to have to get used to fresh air again.
        Dad reports that whilst driving to sulby reservoir for his fishing trips, he's seeing many more people out training, and the nod of affirmation from car drivers as they mutter to their passengers "Parish walkers" will become a more regular thing over the coming weeks. Over here there's just me, and car drivers must be muttering "Look at that idiot, he's walking as though he's s**t himself!" But there you go, race walking isn't as popular over here as it is on the island.
        I'm a little bit gutted not to be on the Island before the race, usually I'm across every couple of months, to see my Dad and Helen, and especially for the TT races. It was February last time I was over, probably the longest I've missed coming across for years. It seems that every time I get enough time off for a long weekend I'm off to some other part of the country for some race or other. Very restrictive, especially being here in Barrow at it's busiest. I'm in London for the 20k race on the mall on 30th May, so that eats into the TT, luckily it's on ITV4 but I'll miss my first race vantage point at Quarterbridge with a cold guinness, especially as a few relatives and friends are making the trip across this year.
        I'm going back to Hull for a few days soon, at the moment I'm sat in the flat in Ulverston with the rain pouring outside. I'm due to go tomorrow but as it's windy I could go tonight. A few days to get a million things done at home, including some tests and a chat with my coach. Exercising and training has been going well, strength and speed building. I got out yesterday evening, as I looked out and saw quite heavy rain, I was pleased as it meant I could test and get a few miles in my new weatherproof jacket. It was comfotable and not too warm, good breathing which is good in a weatherproof. The only downsize is that it's in flourescent yellow, bright enough to burn out the retinas of anyone looking directly into the jacket which is probably a good thing for night walking in the parish but not cool to pop on when nipping to tesco's for a pint of milk. Still, it's the final piece of my clothing equipment, and will get worn a few times to get it comfortable, although maybe not in Hull, I don't think the asbo's and chav's of a Northern housing estate will fully understand. Not without some barracking...

       So, a rest day on Saturday with a final couple of guinness in the evening, and yesterday afternoon I was out for my 8.5m hilly circuit. One with a couple of Ballakillowey type hills in it, one near the start and one 4 miles in, a total climb of 300 metres so tough, raining, with strong winds. On a course which I'd never broken 1h31m.
      I pushed, and actually felt quite fit. I've started to work on my push off, as your back foot leaves the floor you kick with your toes to give that extra couple of inches each step. This can backfire because its a fine line between kicking off with contact and kicking off too much and turning into a run. I'm just gradually building up to get into the stride of it for now.

         I surprised myself by getting back in 1h 25 for the 8.5 miles, averaging 10 mins a mile or 6 mph, which, over hills, is quite a feat. the 10k passed at 1h 2m, which is close to my personal best on the flat way, way back in december, so definite improvements, even in the last month or so. Another good sign is the peaks and troughs in the heart rate graph. I'm finding it easier to push up the hills at quicker speeds, but, whereas last year I was averaging 160 to 170, this year it's down to 150 to 155. Burning less calories for the same speed, and the sharp inclines in the HR graph mean that when it is pushed up to 160, recovery is quick which means I can push on better after tough climbs.
       My final mile or so is a slight downhill back into the town, and I used this to push on, and got a sub 8m 30s mile which I've only been doing in short bursts but can now maintain for longer.
      I felt it today though, it was as if I'd raced yesterday, not trained, so resting and waiting for work to find out if they need me today and I can shoot off home.
      It's just our luck that it's only raining on the Isle of Man and the Lake District today, (oh, and Manchester, but it always rains in Manchester.) sunshine in Hull and the rest of the country. So anyone out there on the Island, a good chance to go out and get wet on a long walk, and test out your waterproofs and anti chaffing creams. 
    The bath after a long wet and windy walk is always a little sweeter. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

15th May 2011

         Good morning.

          I came on here friday, really just checking on the latest entries, to find that Blogger had shut down and lost half of the blogs. Mild panic, I just whip these out while the adverts are on and I haven't made any back up copies. Then when they came back I had a bit of a let down when I read through them and realised that if they had gone for good it wouldn't have been a great loss...
         Anyway, blogger is back up to speed, in the nick of time for Murray, keeping up with the last minute entries. I always wonder about the ones who wait until the very last minute. What if the Internet connection is down? If your pc freezes? Closing day's on a Sunday as well. People talk about it in the pub, get home, fire up the laptop, and they next thing you know they wake up next morning holding their heads saying "what a night, hope I didn't do anything stupid." before the texts from their mates start coming in congratulating them on entering the Parish.

          I'm sat here enjoying a day off (from work, not walking... gonna be out later) watching the clock tick down and wondering whether any other big names are pacing up and down their living rooms thinking "shall I, am I ready for this etc etc". They don't actually think the word etcetra but you know what I mean. I got a day off from work yesterday although I was on standby, and lo and behold a ship turned up out of the blue for yesterday evenings tide which meant I had to phone the Beckhams and cancel again.. Nice one! not... It was rewarding in the end though, the crew were expecting to be out in a rough Irish sea on a saturday night, and the thanks I got for putting them on a quay ten minutes walk from Barrow town centre was heartfelt and warm. They'll be paying for it this morning though...
       Anyway, it meant that when I eventually got to the pub at half past ten, everyone else was close to full on alcohol levels, cheering the Eurovision on the telly (which shows how drunk they were!) It meant that I only had time for a couple and as I was having a last drink before next weeks Inter Area 10k, and not drinking before the 20k on the Mall, and decided to stay off for the 3 weeks after that to the Parish, then it looks like I'm on the wagon until 27th june!
       That'll save me a few bob.
        So, training. What with work finishing before breakfast every day, and a couple of walks into work, and despite the bad weather, I've managed to get in over 140 miles this week. Some good cardio, some long ones, and most on hills. I've been experimenting with food with the help of a nutritionist back in Hull. The thing is you don't know how you are going to manage until you actually try walking 85 miles. It's okay until 40 miles, then you start feeling as though you don't want to eat. Heavy stomach, I personally feel as though there is no room left, and the dry mouthed feeling from breathing through the mouth doesn't help. A couple of things to remember.
       How you take on nutrition will map out the course of the second half of the Parish. Energy levels depend on what the body can salvage from what you eat and what reserves you have. Most (myself included) usually panic on one type of food and end up completely forgetting about others. Water intake as well can be hit and miss. Too many electrolytes can be damaging. Salt is necessary, but too much salt can be bad. A sign of too much salt is swollen hands and feet (what is uncommonly known as mickey mouse glove syndrome) This means the high salt levels retain water in the lower extremities instead of circulating through the muscles and expelling as sweat and waste. (I have a photo somewhere of my swollen hands and Helen's after the 2009 End to end, but can't be bothered to dig em out.) It comes after just drinking electrolyte drinks, overdosing on the electrolytes, and can be helped, if you feel compelled to splash out on the expensive electrolyte drinks, by alternating 1 electrolyte drink and two plain water. Electrolytes are essential, as the name implies, they supply the links for electical synapses to control muscles and other bodily functions, but most can be taken in with a balanced diet. Try out during long training walks, as I always say, it's what's best for you in the end, just don't make plans for the day without trying them out first.
           The other thing to remember, quite important as it's easy to do, is to avoid taking in too much water. You'll think you're dehydrating, especially with being constantly dry mouthed, so force down water to combat it and end up feeling sick, bloated and cramping. This is called Dilutional Hyponatremia (don't worry, that won't be in the test later) and comes from the "drink as much as you can before the start" and "keep drinking even if you don't feel thirsty" advice. Anything over 30 fl ounces or 900ml an hour, that's 2 average 500ml bottles, is overdoing it. Recommended levels are 20 to 25 fl oz and hour under most conditions. That's around 550ml to 750ml, or 1 to 1 and a half bottles an hour depending on how much you're sweating, and how hot the day is. Once again, this is recommended advice from nutritionists, I don't want anybody sueing me because they followed this advice and were deemed oversweaters and ended up de-hydrating. These are levels that you should be working on during training to see if it's right for you, a base to start working from instead of initial trial and error into the unknown.
         I think I stated in an earlier blog although I haven't time to look through them all, that a good way of finding out how much water you use during walking is to weigh yourself, go out on a 2 hour training walk (don't worry, you have plenty of reserves if under 2 hours) and weigh yourself again. The difference in weight is the weight of water you've lost, i.e, 1 kilo is 1000ml, or 33 fluid ounces.
         Also, you can't "overload" on water or electrolytes before the race. You just end up wanting the toilet before you get to Union Mills. I speak from experience.
        Hopefully theres enough there to help.

        Food. This is quite important, without any you'll gradually come to a stop in the second half of the race no matter how determined you are. You do have to take food, and there are essentials.
        Food should be taken on a balance of about 70% carbohydrates, 15% fat and 15% protein. If you rest for the few days before the race, then glycogen levels will be topped up, most of which is stored in the liver. The guys at the front will burn these up within about 2 hours, the midfield walkers a little longer. Whatever, you will have to start replacing these glycogen reserves, or using other sources. The body can convert carbohydrates (sugars) at a rate of 1g /4 cals per minute. This gives an hourly conversion rate of 240 to 280 cals an hour. It used to be said that you had to replace the calories used with the same amount of calories, and as I personally burned 600 to 800 calories an hour last year, this was a lot. Up to date research shows you need less than half of this as trying to eat so much leads to the bloating, nausea and vomiting with associated stomach cramps.
        The balanced diet helps the body burn stores already taken, such as body fat. The carbs are self explanatory and are converted to glucose and glycogen to be burned in the muscles converting oxygen to energy. This should be a mix of simple sugars and complex sugars so they burn at a steady rate and don't give highs and lows in energy rushes.
        Fat should be in a high lecythin form, no saturated fats. High lecythin include chocolate (nice) milk, and whole grains. The lecythin in good fats have the same effect as chemicals that disperse oil in water, and have a similar effect on fat, breaking it down and making it water soluble, to use as fuel in the muscles.
        Protein. Some have asked why protein? It is usually taken after exercise to repair damaged muscle tissue. Research shows that exercise over 2 hours reduce protein levels to such a state that your body starts to burn up the muscle mass as part of the essential fuel necessary. 15% protein not only helps prevent this but also helps post race recovery, which is best demonstrated on the Sunday and Monday after the race, large groups of people walking sluggishly down Strand Street and the Prom like zombies, dragging their aching legs behind them.
        You have the internet, obviously, if you are reading this, so while I could write long lists of foods which contain the above essential elements of the diet, just google in the right words and make up your own shopping list. Most of the things mentioned are available in common everyday foods, and a good diet plan may take a couple of hours, but if it helps on the day it's well worthwhile.
        One other thing, (which I think I've mentioned before, but it's worth stating again.) Liquid food is absorbed more easily and at a steadier rate than lumps. Blended soups, thin porridge with honey, and puddings that come in tubs, rice and fruit which also give a good carb/fat mix and are easy to eat. Once again, it's all trial and error, and what works for some might not work with others. You have 6 weeks to find out your diet plan, and its worth working on, if you put in dozens of hours walking in training, and neglect your dietary plans, it's a little like going for a 300 mile drive and not bothering to put petrol, oil and water into the car. You won't reach the end of the road.

       I hope this helps, any questions, or if I have anything wrong and you want to put me right ( I want to reach the end as well) let me know.

       Happy training.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

12th May 2011

           Another good 10 miles this lunchtime, started with my 3 mile Cardio, uphill climb of 300mtrs+ without much respite, then back onto my 8.5m course which is just up and down, no flat bits at all. 1h 45, so speed picking up. Training every day now to get some distance fitness up. The body doesn't have chance to build up glycogen reserve levels so needs to burn into fat reserves, the body learns to find other forms of nutrition. I'm able to do this because high water is about 6am, so on ship for four am, finish by seven am, and the rest of the day to myself.

       My coach was in touch today, there is an Inter Area race meeting in Tamworth (I had to look it up, just off the M6 north of Birmingham) a week on Sunday and I'm in the Northern area 10k team if I'm available, I'll have to have a word with work to see if I can sort something out as I'm on standby that day.

      I'm going through my final equipment check at the moment, clothes, food, first aid kit, etc. Some of the things I use are only available online, and I don't want to leave anything til last minute, that's the way to go without on the day. I'll blog a list of my first aid kit soon, once I've got it all together, It's something I've put together over the previous four Parishes and seen me right through other races. realistically, most (hopefully all) of the things in the first aid kit won't be used, but if you need a dab of savlon, or a blister plaster, it's not good to go to other support crews holding out the begging bowl.
      Clothing and shoes, you should have pretty much all your kit by now, if anything looks as if it's close to wearing out then now's the time to replace it. Don't start the race with anything new. It'll mock you all the way round with its fresh and cutting chaffiness, and have you cursing that old but comfortable pair of shorts or t-shirt that didn't look brilliant but fitted snugly.  And if you're going all the way, then you need spare kit. I still apologise to Helen in 2008 for sending her back to Peel in the middle of the night for a dry pair of socks. You feel guilty for sending them, and you're without support while they drive back for your forgotten kit.

      One final thing. Regrettably, Helen isn't doing the Parish this year, at least not yet, although she has weeks to enter. (only joking Murray, is it 5 days? Not long anyway. It only seems like 5 minutes since I was entering, but that was November. Time flies.) It does mean I'm teamless, as there are only two of us now. if anyone wants someone who's finished before, and has a good chance of finishing again, the e-mail address is above right. I've never been in a team before, but feel if others are relying on me, it'll give me an added incentive to drag my sorry arse over the finish line.
     Gotta go now, at work at 6am, if it doesn't cancel with the wind.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

11th may 2011

      Evening all!

          Quite chuffed today, got the top 10 English peaks in within a year when we peaked Skiddaw, the 4th biggest mountain in England, this afternoon. Above, sitting on the beacon with bassenthwaite lake in the background, only a couple of weeks ago I posted a photo from the north of bassenthwaite looking up at this peak and wondered if we could get up here at all with the weather the way it was.
At 3063 feet, (my arm was 4 feet up) it's one of the 5 peaks above 3000 feet.

         I was a bit wary, doing a good 20 miles yesterday I thought I might be a bit tired, but I felt okay this morning so off we went. I was up at 3am for work, a rig support ship sailing which is good fun because they have 7 engines dotted around the ship for manoeuvring around rigs (and windmills) so driving them is a little like a space ship with retro rockets, blast one way to move it, then the other to stop it etc. It was clear and we were off by 7.30, days work done, so checked all the different internet weather forecasts, eventually found one we liked, sun and high cloud (the others were not good.) and jumped in the car.
       We were going to go the Blencathra route, that has sharp edge which is a proper climb, hand over hand with 300 feet drops either side, but it was blowing a gale, not good conditions, it smarts a little getting blown off a mountain, so just the easy "fell walk" style of the normal route, taking three other peaks on the way.

           So, a tough 8 mile round trip, we stayed about 20 minutes at the peak for tea and butties, in 3 hours. Good Parish training, the uneven tracks work out the ankles and calves, the 45 degree climb for the first 1800 feet really worked out the legs, and the trip back down worked on the downhill muscles, anyone whose done the Parish will know downhill can be as punishing as uphill at times. One thing I do know, a good two or three hour jaunt up a big hill like this can make my leg muscles ache like a long walk can't do anymore, it's guaranteed good stamina and climbing muscle building workout, as well as brilliant cardio. And the fresh air is plentiful. It was blowing a bit up there today though, but as for difficulty rating, steady climb rather than dangerous or thrilling. I was feeling good for myself at the top sipping tea when it was spoilt a little by three men who came up to the peak on mountain bikes, for once actually doing what they are named for!
Over 3000 feet up? Now that IS showing off...

          I've another job at 05.30 in the morning, should be finished by eight, but I'll have to see what state my legs are in before I decide what to do training wise, maybe a swim, maybe a rest day in front of the telly, cash in the attic, bargain hunt, countdown...
        One thing to remember if you are taking the opportunity to do a little every day, stretching, proper re-hydration, and protein. I'm taking a protein and rehydration shake on completion of training and one before bed.
        And also recommended by the boffins is an ice cold bath which contracts the muscles, aids recovery from muscle damage and reduces swelling. not that I do that... do you think I'm mad? A nice hot bath with nice smellies in is much better for the soul.

Keswick and Derwent Water below, Scafell over my left shoulder. Despite Keswick Pencil Museum having the second largest pencil in the world, it wasn't big enough to be visible from up here.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

10th May 2011

         I thought I'd publish this photo, initially to give any relatives of the young athletes from the Island a view of the cycle track at Redbridge in Essex where the recent Nationals were held. When I initially saw it I thought for a split second that I had driven down there in my sleep or in some other sort of haze, wandered round a ploughed field for a couple of hours under the illusion I was racing, then jumped in my car and driven home. Just for a split second though, then common sense butted in, and I realised that the Redbridge Cycle tracks are so new that Google Earth doesn't have them on yet. Apparently its a couple of years behind, which is why, when you zoom down on Abbotabad in Pakistan you can still see Bin Laden lying on a deckchair by his pool. Maybe in a couple of years time I can check back and see the proper tarmac and buildings. If I remember...

        I got up bright and early today for some more windsurfing, down to Morecambe bay at 7am, yesterday wasn't possible because I was working. Unfortunately, the winds were gusting 25 to 30 knots so I wouldn't stand much chance of getting anywhere except wet. A couple of the lads got out but they were really experienced, but watching them staying up despite the wind and choppy seas made me realise that I'd need a lot more practise in light winds.

  It'll be a while before I get an action shot of myself like this... show offs! Walney Island in the background, this is just off the Lifeboat station for anyone who knows the area.

           So, what to do with the day off. Although it was clear and sunny at 8am, clouds and rain could be visible all around. back at the flat, the weather girl on BBC local news was predicting rain and sun (?) with the Isle of man being colder than everywhere else! On the lakes weather website, it was predicting cloud below 500 metres so the big mountains were a no-no, so a walk.

             I decide to try and push it a bit further, but if I combined a few different size circuits could arrive near the flat every few miles and abort if anything was wrong. It was chucking it down by now, so much for occasional light showers BBC weather girl! I was wrapped up in Fleece and waterproofs so wasn't uncomfortable, and it was warm enough so that the legs under the shorts were not cold. The Hedgehogs did their job and kept my feet dry, so plod on.
        I wanted to keep a sub 11 minute mile, on a very hilly course it would be quite good, and used this walk to work on my concentration. When your mind wanders the speed drops off and, despite listening to some funny podcasts, was ok with the speed. I was phoned by work 3 times to let me know I'd be on board a ship at 4am tomorrow, which lost me a few minutes, and 12 miles in the clouds miraculously cleared, the wind picked up even more (I think I was over 300 metres up by then so a little exposed) and I started to cook in my waterproofs. I was beginning to chafe as well, so I had to stop to apply some savlon to an unusual region (the region wasn't the southern lake district by the way...) and carry on.
       So, 3h 30 mins for 20 miles, (moving time, stopped for phone calls and other bits and pieces), and still feeling good at the end of it. Feet good, despite only applying the foot witches creams and potions since yesterday but no real pain. Still had some tightness in the upper quads which slowed me up towards the last 5 miles, so I'll have to work on that. Now though, my hamstring area is throbbing, but that's the Piriformis syndrome kicking in.
       To conclude, feeling good, but I know somethings going to slow me up. I was a little glad to finish at 20 miles, but I feel that in training you set out with a target in mind, say a quick 5 miles or the full Parish on the day at 85 miles, then your mind wants you to stop at that point as if it knows your target.

      One small point before I go to bed, (I've got to get up at 3am!) research at the University of Philadelphia has shown that to promote fitness, increase stamina and endurance and boost the metabolism, two five mile runs, (or walks) one in the morning and one in the evening, are better than one longer ten mile effort, because the body barely recovers before it is out again, so split training into 2 bits, and the body burns more calories after exercise so it does it twice! Still, for parish training, some longer ones are probably needed sometime during the week. It's up to you and how you feel, I suppose.

Sayonara, walking dudes!