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!