Sunday, 22 June 2008

60 miles and proud

What a day!

It started to rain after two hours and it didn't stop! I don't think I have ever been out in such atrocious conditions as they were going over the Sloc. Horizontal stinging rain with driving winds over 40mph.

We deliberately set off at 4mph, clocking in around 15mins every mile give or take a few seconds. It was very enjoyable meeting new people, everyone with a different story. Even with the rain it was a carnival atmosphere. Things got very different going over the Sloc (1000ft or more?) conversation was impossible over the roar of the wind and the noise of the rain on hoods and hats. One had to shout to get anyone's attention.

Going down the other side was just as bad, wind behind driving you too fast down the hill, wet socks turning into cheese graters and most people shivering as they were soaked to the skin and no longer working as hard. I was given a welcome cup of soup and Dalby at the bottom of the hill which stopped the shvering and things started to look up again.

At Peel, mile 33ish, we went into my parents house, which is conveniently located on the course itself and got fresh t-shirts, waterproofs, gloves and hats. A bowl of soup and a cheese roll later and we were on our way again. As I left the front door, I nearly ran down Irene George (my fellow bloggers wife) who gave me an update on the front runners.

I still felt fresh going on through Kirk Michael and on up to Jurby. I was worried about what was going on inside my shoes and didn't dare change my socks in case my feel exploded. We went past my house in Bride and waved which was nice and then dipped in at Bride. Bryan at this stage had developed a very painful knee and was forced to retire.

Its bizarre but once you lose your companion, and its dark and wet and cold one deteriates at a remarkable rate. On my way to Andreas, I was determined to get to Maughold. My pace was back up and I did two 14:45ish miles. I dipped at Andreas and pushed on into the darkness. About an hour later I knew I was in trouble. The previous mile had been 17minutes, both knees were starting to hurt a lot and my feet - they felt very battered and bruised. It was the slowing down that took its toll and I started to shiver. This is where my support crew said I was taking a bad turn and we decided to head back to Andreas to hand in my tracker chip.

As soon as I got stopped and got into the car I was shaking, almost uncontrollably, I didn't resist as it was effective at keeping warm. Luckily we only live 4 or 5 miles from there and I was in a hot bath within 15mins of stopping. I had to be helped get my shoes off as my hands were not working at all. There were several disgisted groans in the room then my socks came off. I won't describe that to you, suffice to say "bloated corpe".

Anyway, a good nights sleep and I need a zimmer frame but I feel okay. Am disapointed about the conditions, I feel I could have gone a lot further had it been a nice day but hey, I can proove that next year can't I?

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 20 June 2008

Green Light

Vaseline - Check
Duoderm - Check
Gatorade all made up - Check
X-Socks - Check
Spare shoes - Check
Waterproofs - CHECK! (Its going to be nasty)
Egg mago Sarnies - Check
Tomato Soup - Check
Number on bib - Check
Provisioned support cars with numbers all ready to go - Check
Shades - Check
Camelbak - Check
Watch - Check
Lucozade Tablets - Check
Suncream - Check
Hat - Check.

Damn, feels like I am going abroad!

Well, this is it. I am off to Douglas for the night now to sleep over for an early easy start in the morning.

Good luck everyone. Chat Sunday!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

What a taper

So "Challenger" was immense. Around three events a day, each one about the equivalent of a half marathon. Four hours sleep a night. Everything from fell running to canoing.

We were up to 7th with a day to go but we had no substitutes and the tiredness took its toll and we slipped to 11th on the final day. Not bad though, there were over 120 teams taking place.

One of the highlights for me was having the "privilege" to pair up with ex pro cyclist, Chris King on a cycling stage. After a 4 hours, going up a very long stony climb I got cramp in both calves. Chris said "freewheel and stretch it out". A very strong hand landed in my back and pushed me up the hill. He was still conversational chatting about our strategy and commented "this is a good strength workout." Insane man.

Challenger was not the best way to taper for the parish walk. I am feeling very fit but a little drained. My plan is to do nothing apart from a 2 mile stroll each day now and eat healthily.

Its strange, its only a few days away and has been fairly mentally consuming for months.

I now have a strategy sorted out:

Wake up, go to the start line. Walk. Keep Walking. Enjoy the scenery. Try not to stop.

Is there more to it that that?

Monday, 9 June 2008


I know I am crazy. I am heading off tomorrow to Challenger World. Its something I do each year. This year it's in Stirling.

The event is four days of endurance and teamwork doing a variety of events day and night. There are around 120 teams and each team can have 6 members with 4 people participating in each event. The team is tasked with overcoming the course, the terrain and other companies racing against the clock. The tasks can vary from hour to hour, running, kayaking and mountain biking across tough terrain whilst having to think logically, crack codes and solve puzzles. Sounds easy right? :-)

So, I though I was going to have a quiet year this year. We only had five in the team but what a five (with the exception of me). One of the team is in the Bob Graham club (look it up!) capable of a sub 2hr 30 marathon. Another is an ex professional, GB international Road Bike racer who did many years doing the Tours in France. Our captain is a 2:45 marathoner himself. The other is a lunatic who is currently training for the Marathon des Sables, a 151 mile endurance race across the Sahara Desert!

Unfortunately, the "Bob Graham" chap had to drop out last week because of a family issue. That means we have a team of three nutters and me. Rather than sit quietly on the bench encouraging my team to get us through to the world finals - I am going to have to take part. In every single event. As the slowest one there. ON MY TAPERING REST WEEK.

Its going to be a blast and I am not going to use it - or blisters as an excuse on my blog entry on the 22nd of June.

One Blister Cause

Well yes, walking too far with fairy soft feet is one cause - however, I think I have found another.

I was wondering why my hands were getting swollen after 20 miles or so. It was quite pronounced and something I have never experienced before. My training partner Bryan was also experiencing the same thing.

After much research I have discovered it's caused by an electrolyte imbalance. I can now tell you with some authority that electrolytes are chemicals - Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride, Phosphate and Bicarbonate. Your body gets them from the food you eat naturally. When you exercise heavily, you lose these electrolytes in your sweat, in particular, sodium and potassium. They have to be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your in you body balanced.

One sign of an imbalance is puffy swollen hands and feet. Well I can tell you that I have had it in my hands a few times now. You can hardly close your hands. When this happens, its likey that your feet are reacting the same way causing you to go up a shoe size and - OUCH - your shoes no longer fit. There is the cause of a nasty series of blisters right there.

There are lots of ways of talking in electrolytes in endurance events and during training. They are available in endurance drinks like Gatorade. Blisters are my number one fear for the Parish so this is now my plan. I am going to drink Gatorade to try and prevent blisters.

If you had told me that a week ago I would have laughed too :-)

Monday, 2 June 2008

Zen and the Art of Foot Maintenance

I have decided that long distance walking isn’t so much about the fitness and stamina, but more about the long lost art of foot maintenance. Feet that do Parish Walks, they cannot feel soft as your face. (Fairy liquid advert reference for those of you not old enough to remember) New and interesting blisters and sores are appearing all over my feet at the moment. How does one prevent this happening? How does one cope once a nasty blister has developed? People must end up walking on pulpy stumps!

I seem to be living in a world of perpetual foot pain since I upped my mileage. People who finish the Parish either have hooves instead of feet or are able to endure untold amounts of pain. Probably a combination of both.

Training was good this week. I managed a couple of 5 mile runs. This weekend I did two walks back to back, both off-road for safety due to some bizarre motorcycle event taking place this week. The first walk was the Millennium way from Sky Hill to Crosby – roughly 17miles. The second one was a thundering (by my standards) full Millennium way from Casteltown right through to Ramsey itself which I did with Bryan, my training partner. We finished it the official route in 6 and a half hours which we thought was quite good over open fells. We then set off towards Bride from Ramsey. The official route is roughly 26 miles. We probably added another 3 miles or so to that before getting a lift home.

For those people doing the Millennium way from South to North, please be careful after St Lukes church. The path from there right up to Brandywell (at least 2 miles) is awful. Its been destroyed by motorbikes and is very hard with trainers on, its easy to pick up an ankle injury there.

Monday, 19 May 2008


Barcelona was lovely. Got some nice runs in. I studied my map of Barcelona and saw a lovely park with the old Olympic stadium in. I though I would run to it and the do a few laps maybe. When I got there I found it was on top of a massive plateau. The heat and the steps nearly killed me but the view was worth it.

On Sunday morning Bryan picked me up at 06:30 and we headed down to Port Erin to start our long walk to Bride. It was a gorgeous morning so plenty of suncream was applied.

On the way down towards Dalby I mentioned I could feel my right heel getting a bit hot. At mile 5 we stopped and I removed my socks to discover a 20pence piece sized blister. Not good for mile 5 so I put some Vaseline on the blister, changed socks, tightened my shoes and we set off again.

We popped into my Dad's house for a potty break and a brew in Peel at 09:30 and set off once again. At Kirk Michael, mile 18, I complained of a lot of tenderness on my heel still and so removed the socks one more. I didn't like what I saw at all. Basically my 20pence blister was now on top of what I can only describe as a giant 3cm diameter bubble wrap bubble. Ick, my blister had a blister!!

Bryan and I agreed that it would be daft to take the skin off it as it was clearly very deep
. I had to pull the pin at mile 18 and had to be collected. Bryan carried on so I jumped on my bike as soon as I got home and rode back down the Lhen to meet him. It was 30 miles to my house and he did it in 6hours 15 which put the pace at 12:30's which I believe is perfect.

Bryan had a few blisters of his own, I had another on my left heel. He was in the forces and spent some time with the Royal Marines on Dartmoor and said he would "fix" the blisters. This involved soaking a few feet of thread in surgical spirit. Lancing the blister with the needle, going out the other side and then drawing the soaking thread right through the blister over the red flesh below. I have never felt pain like it and let everyone within earshot know. My wife suggested I try childbirth. I didn't make any noise on the second one.

Today (the day after) I cannot really see any blister. Bryan's trick seems to have worked a treat. My legs are quite sore - I am walking about like an old man. I only managed 18 miles! The parish walk is a lot tougher than it seems when you sign up in the comfort of your computer room!

My conclusion is that I have been running too much, my skin has hardened in the wrong places, its an utterly different action to walking. I am going to only walk now (one I have repaired) to try and toughen my skin up.