Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Over the peak

This weekend was my longest training session in my preparation for 2014.  The sessions all get shorter from here on in.

The goal was to see how far I could walk comfortably in 6 hours and practice eating and drinking as much as I could en-route.

I live in Bride and so I set off tracing the Parish Walk route in the reverse direction.  There was quite a strong headwind all the way but I managed to keep the pace steady.  First pitstop was the shop in Ballaugh where I filled my water bottle, drank a sports drink and scoffed down an egg and bacon sandwich.

Next was Shoprite in Peel where I refilled by bottle, had another sports drink, a banana and a cereal bar.  I was also inclined to buy a little pot of vaseline as I was getting chafing on my arms of all places.  I won't wear that top again, but I got away with it, just.

At Patrick I left the Parish course and turned towards St Johns and up to the Hope.  Straight over and up the back road to the Earie towards Braaid.  I have driven up there countless times.  I didn't realise quite how steep it is and it keeps on going uphill beyond the plantation - a 3km 600ft climb.  As a consequence I was out of food and drink and getting hungry by Braaid; but right on cue, Michelle arrived with supplies!  I had another sports drink, a packet of crisps (salt), a banana and three much needed jam and peanut butter sandwiches.

Refuelled, I carried on past B&Q, Kewaigue school and on towards the South Quay.  At the Nunnery I still had 15minutes to go so I managed to push on up to Douglas Head along Marine Drive to the arches and back to Douglas Head again in 5:59:54.

The total was 52.6km or 32.7miles, almost exactly the Parish Walk distance to Peel.  6:50/km or 11:00/mile 5.4mph.  Bar the hills, the splits were even all the way, no speeding up or slowing down.

The pace felt very comfortable; I managed to scoff loads of food and so kept my energy levels pretty much topped up all the way.  It felt like a sensible pace for me to try and stick to on the way to Peel on the big day.

All the hard training over the past three months seems to have paid off.  I felt quite stiff after the Sarah Killey (although that was a much faster pace) and yet I felt fine on Sunday day and have managed to continue training as normal; albeit a bit fatigued.

As a novice, it is hard not to feel anxious about the Parish, especially when everyone you speak to emphasises how hard and painful it all is.  I know I do!  So this weekend was a confidence booster which is what is needed at this time.

I only have weekends left to train before the 20k race in york which is two weeks before the Parish itself.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Eat Walk Eat Sleep

I have never exercised as much as I have in the last four week training block.  I feel very lucky in two ways.  First that I have been supported by friends and family who have been tirelessly patient either keeping me company on walks, supporting me in events or giving me the flexibility to be out there training.  Secondly that I have managed, to stay relatively injury free.

Over the past 4 weeks, I have averaged 95km (59miles) a week at an average speed of 6:09 mins/km (9:54 mins/mile, 6mph)

I'll share some highlights.  Last Saturday I met Jock, Vinny and Dave at the Manx Harriers clubhouse bright and early.  I brought along a mystery guest 18 year old Alex Eaton.  Alex has entered the 18-21 parish walk to Peel this year and wanted to test himself over some distance.

The route took us to Ballacraine, up to Cronk-y-Voddy.  From there we went through Little London and up to Brandywell.  Alex showed his class climbing up to the top and powered away from the rest of us as if we were standing still.  Then we descended down through Baldwin.  There are no shops on this route and we were all out of water so looked for an appropriate mountain spring which we found opposite Injebreck.  This led to a series of high jinx and wind ups.

We rolled through Baldwin and then Alex upped the tempo and started pushing hard back to Douglas.  I could see he was encouraging me to stay with him which I just about managed to do - absolutely flat out.  It was a good walk, 35km (22miles).

On Sunday I was back out with Alex, Adam and Michelle.  We did 20k round the Western 10 (Julie Brew) route with a couple of laps of The Hope.  Even after 35k the day before Alex was flying.  Very impressive.  I managed 1:55 for the 20km which I was happy with after a hard session the day before.

This Saturday Richard, Dave, Vinny and Dale came to my house in Bride.  We walked the Parish Walk route back to Laxey, where I had strategically left my car the night before.  We set of at a very sharp pace, much faster than I was comfortable with which pretty much continued to Maughold.  From there things were a little more conservative up Ballajora.  I was determined to treat that climb with respect and backed right off climbing up.  I was roughly 40 seconds behind the others at the top.  A lively discussion of the merits of backing right off climbing up there on Parish Walk day followed. My own philosophy is that I am happy to lose the 40 seconds.  If I am honest, I don't think it will be optional.

We cruised along to the Dhoon and took the short cut over Ballaragh. Steve Partington has walking classes up Ballaragh on a Wednesday evening sometimes.  I can still recall the pain from doing them in the past.  I decided this was worth a good push and drove hard up there as if I was in one of Steve's drill camp sessions.  Half way up I heard someone closing on me like a train and Richard flew past - he always likes a challenge.  He slowed slightly and invited me to push with him and drove me hard to the top.  It is a big descent from there to Laxey and we did the final 3km in 15:25 (7.4 mph).  I blogged in February that I did 15:10 in an indoor 3km race in Birmingham.  This was downhill but we had done 36km already so I was really happy with that.

A good walk, I learned the Maughold area and got in another long walk at a good pace.  39km (24.5 miles)

Today, Sunday I watched the Northern 10km.  Dave and Richard raced which I think is both brave (bonkers) and impressive.  They both said they could feel the miles in their legs.  Richard did a storming time - 83 minutes (8:13 per mile, 7.3mph)!!!

I managed a more comfortable 11km on my own later in the day but felt fantastic and pushed on at a slightly more sedate 9:07/mile or 6.5 mph.

So I have one more four week block left before the big day.  I feel stronger than I did in the new year and my confidence in my fitness is building.  However, I am left under no illusion that I am a Parish Walk novice and that my real test is yet to come.

My Mum entered the Parish Walk yesterday.  Entries close at midnight tonight!