So - 7 weekends of training left. Or, in my plans, 5 big weekends. The final two weekends will be a big 20k race in York - the "British Gran Prix" and then a bit of a taper. So it's all starting to come into focus.
The past two weeks have gone to plan. After the Sarah Killey 50km race I needed to recover. I went out the following day and did 7.5km feeling a little stiff and tender, but it was good to loosen off. I struggled to find any pace all week and felt really sleepy and very hungry. Over the following weekend I managed to get in a decent 18km with Adam, Michelle and Marie around Marine Drive. I was still feeling the weekend before.
A fully week after the Sarah Killey and I started to feel my strength return. I had a pretty good start of the week and felt my speed return on Wednesday. On Friday I did a quick 12km with Michelle and felt I was fully recovered. Recovered enough to attempt the Sloc with Richard, Vinny, Dave and Brian yesterday (Saturday).
We met at the NSC and caught the 06:50 bus down to Gansey. It was an awful morning, windy, foggy and raining. By the time we got to Gansey the rain had stopped and we set off towards Rushen Church where they introduced me to Ballakillowey, the steepest part of the climb up towards the Round Table. By the time we got onto the Sloc, the fog was thick and the wind was quite strong. "Character building" was the way Richard described it.
I learned a few lessons as we descended into Dalby. Lesson number one - tighten your shoelaces on the descent. Make sure they are nice and tight to help prevent heel slippage and hot spots forming on your feet. The second lesson is probably only applicable to racewalkers, and that is to allow the knee to bend slightly on the really steep descents to allow the leg to act as suspension. This may help prevent too much impact injury later in the day. Category "A" rules Racewalking is never done on terrain like that, for obvious reasons, so it is best to make use of the Category "B" rules which allow for the terrain in these circumstances. The same can be said of the very steep ascents, of course.
By the time we got out of Glen Maye I got into a nice rhythm and pushed the last 4k into Peel at a good pace. However, Richard likes a challenge and picked up the pace even higher and dragged me into Peel at my flat out race pace!
Bottles were refuelled at the shops in Peel and we went into a cafe for Bacon and Egg baps and a brew. This is my kind of training!
At this stage, a lingering virus was starting to get the better of Dave and he dropped out and tagged in Michelle who arrived wearing sunglasses and immediately starting ribbing us (me). After explaining the finer idiosyncrasies of her car's psychopathic electronics system, the broken volume control of the stereo and strange (unchangeable??) choice of hardcore music to Dave, we headed off back to Douglas.
As we left Peel, Dave drove past waving through open windows with deep bass and slamming techno booming up the road which was hilarious.
Then the serious work began. We passed 30km at Greeba Bridge at a good steady pace similar to Sarah Killey race pace. Soon we were pushing up what Vinny calls "Greeba Mountain" to Colby which I found tough. Michelle and Richard pushed hard and left the rest of us for dust. We regrouped in Crosby through Glen Vine for final refreshments and started the last push into Douglas. From the Ballahutchin on, Michelle pushed Richard and left the rest of us again. I was able to maintain about 6:15/km pace but they were out of sight very quickly. It was clear Michelle had worked hard at the end, which is testament to Richard's strength. As demonstrated at the Sarah Killey, he seems to be a different level of strength and fitness to the rest of us at the moment.
For me, the walk was 39km or 25miles and I covered it in 4h 14mins which is 6:40/km or 5.7 mph average in old money.
Today (Sunday) was another good walk. I met Adam, Michelle and Alex for a (much flatter) 20km up North. I was surprised how fresh I felt after the 25miles the day before - no aches or pains or niggles. We set off as a group and laughed and joked for the first 10km, when, once again, the serious business began. I was not sure how I would react after the Sloc the day before, but I felt good and pressed on. The second 10km was a pretty speedy 57minutes for me. I decided to award myself a treat and had two massive slices of Michelle's Victoria sponge at the end. A big thanks to Alan Callow for following us on a push bike and providing refreshments (and wisdom) all the way.
So a recovery week and then a really solid week. Some good lessons learned and still injury free.
Recover week total 53km. This weeks total 97.3km.