Good Morning, hope everyone is enjoying their Bank Holiday weekend.
I'm sat here resting after yesterdays National 20k, analyzing the race, working out plans for the future. I finished somewhere around 14th, I think ( I had to leave before the presentation as I had to drive home), a time of 1h 57, an improvement, indeed a new personal best, which sounds good, realistically it was only my second 20k so I should have improved. It was hot and windy at the same time, and Redbridge Cycle circuit in Essex is a difficult course with uphill and downhill sections, which, with the wind, apparently made it a venue where you lose a few minutes on your normal time. The usual "If it was a normal course you would have been three or four minutes quicker" came out again, mybe one day in the future I'll get to walk on a "normal" course...
So, what did I learn? Number one is don't drive for 3 and a half hours and arrive 25 minutes before the race. Not good preparation! The A1 was shut for a section which meant what would normally have been a pleasant diversion through Sherwood Forest, but as there was an accident on the M1 which closed a section of that as well, all the Bank Holiday traffic was on the same section of road as us. At least we arrived in time though, arriving a couple of minutes after the race had started would have been soul destroying. Also, on the same note, a 3 hour drive home is very uncomfortable after a tough 20k race. I would have got us a hotel but the royal wedding, bank holiday weekend and good weather all meant the hotels were either full or bumping up their prices as per the economic rule of supply and demand.
Secondly, although I'm improving, I realize that a few months is not enough to learn how to race walk. if I keep it up, maybe next year I'll improve enough to make a dent in these kind of races. There are ways of improving but they are not a quick fix, it takes time and effort, and at my advancing years there's not much time left. Keep up with the reps, develop more fast twitch fibres and cross training. One coach said I should be running, this can develop the "push off" as the trailing foot leaves the ground, as well as speed and stamina for the quick race walk. My coach also showed me a couple of exercises to improve my technique.
So, keep training. Although I was never going to be a threat for an Olympic spot in the 20k, it's all good for the longer races. My coach says I should try for the 50k National Championships in September which creates a dilemma. Three races at pretty much the same time. The National 50k's, about the only distance I haven't done yet, the Roubaix 28 hours, something I wish to do eventually, I just feel the challenge of 28 hours is one I wish to tick off before I give up walking, and the End to End, in which Richard Gerrard probably feels the same as myself, it was good to get third place, but 7 hours and 2 minutes is just begging me to come back and try and beat the 7 hours mark. 5 months or so to decide what to do.
The nutrition and rest worked pretty well, I did nothing for three days beforehand and bulked up on Carbs, and on the day I felt okay, none of the usual heavy stomach feelings from past races, and two hours is about the limit for stored glycogen levels alone to keep you going. A good sports massage beforehand would have helped, I didn't feel tired physically right up to the end, but a pain in my left leg in the quad came back and massaging my shins helps the warm up pain at the start of the race. I rubbed in some ibufrogel into the muscles then did as a masseur would do, both thumbs firmly in the bottom of the muscle and work them up towards the knee, always massage towards the direction of the heart. Deep as you can, throughout the length of the muscle. It works out any knots, and clears any waste such as blood clots and lactic acid. It worked for me at least. I'm still planning to go for the Olympic course trial at the end of May so lessons learned, stay the weekend, the wife and kids'll enjoy that, a good sports massage beforehand to help clear up any niggles, and, most of all, enjoy the occasion. Taking part in a race on the Olympic Games course is something to tell my grandkids about!
I was surprised to see some spectators yesterday holding up the manx flag. On inspection, there were some youngsters across from the Island taking part in some of the earlier events, I don't know if it was the under 13's 2k, the under 15's 3k, or the under 17's 5k, but to see a contingent from the Isle of Man come across for a meeting like this is very commendable. It just goes to show the sporting heritage the island is developing, and if youngsters are coming through on a national level like this, that the Islands sporting pedigree is good for years to come. To compare, if a town on the British mainland with a similar population as the Isle of man had the same amount of sporting success in all fields it would be national news. Something the population of the Island should be proud of.
Just had a look at the manxathletics website to see that not only were the youngsters at the meeting yesterday, they were very successful winning events and team events. I would just like to add my congratulations for a tremendous performance from the whole team.