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.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

The Rain in Spain

Will hopefully not be falling on me next week!

I am off to Barcelona for a week tomorrow. I will take my trainers but I am not expecting too much.

Not a bad week, stong 10 miler at the weekend, nice mid week 8, a little warmup 4 and 5 more this evening.

My heel is not improved, but its not deteriorated either. I have been given a good set of excercises from a physio friend and I purchased a little wooden roller from body shop. The roller seems to work wonders. Its a real pleasure pain thing when using it - creepy.

When I get back next weekend, Bryan and I are planning on doing Port Erin - Slot, Peel, Ballaugh, Jurby Bride. I guess I will find out whether I am ready or not!

Good luck to the folk doing the Andreas 20k tomorrow. Its my local race and I am going to miss it. Real shame but my flight leaves at 10:55am.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Policeman's Heel

Policeman's what?

Its a term used to describe a condition I have developed called plantar fasciitis. Its probably come about through training without proper progressive overload (too much too soon) and carrying too much weight.

Wiki describes it as "a painful inflammatory condition caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia of the foot or biomechanical faults that cause abnormal pronation of the foot."

I had this a year or so ago, saw a consultant podiatrist for it. He prescribed rest. It worked.

Oh well, thats out of the question; so pain it is then. Back to the training...

I have been running doing two half marathons a week, Saturdays and Wednesdays since my last post with some 5 milers in between. During the weekend halves, I have been doing a few miles walking at a fast 5k pace to get my speed up. Its going well and I am not really tired (as in have to go to bed immediately) afterwards now and am happy that my core fitness is getting stronger.

Not a lot to report really, I am not going to let the foot thing stop me unless it gets too painful to train. Right now its painful when I get up in the morning but it does not seem to be getting any worse.

I want to do a 20 miles with my friend fellow Parish entrant Bryan at the weekend. He doesn't know that yet so we will see how it goes!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

All systems go

I have had my best week so far.

On Monday I ran 11miles around the Point of Ayre. Tuesday was an easy 4 mile run along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and Wednesday was a longer 10 mile run up the Canal with some colleagues.

On Saturday I planned on doing a long walk because, after all, that's what I am training to do. I felt that after a good few weeks of putting a base down, it was time to test myself a little. With only 9 weeks to go I felt that I should be able to do 20miles at this stage. My parents live in Peel and I live in Bride so it made sense for me to walk the Parish route backwards from Bride down the Lhen to Ballaugh, through Kirk Michael and along the coast road to Peel. With a plan in mind I set off at 7am.

I decided not to racewalk as such, just walk quickly. I was worried that my knees would begin to hurt if I locked them back every stride. I set of fairly steadily doing around 4.5 miles an hour for the first hour. The sun was out and after an hour I still felt very fresh so I got into my pace and pushed on a little, upping the pace to 5 miles an hour for the next hour. I popped into the post office in Ballaugh for a quick Lucozade and a bar of fruit and nut. Hardly the best nutrition but I fancied it and I make up my rules after all :-)

Revived and feeling a little altruistic (I didn't want the change chinking in my pocket so I put it in a lifeboat box) I pushed on to Kirk Michael at a quicker pace and did the next hour at 5.5 miles an hour.

Just after Glen Wyllin I realised that I was racewalking without having made the decision to do so. My mind started to wander and I pondered how the style came to be in the first place and realised that its just a natural thing that starts to happen when you walk quicker over time. When the body is tired it naturally looks for efficiencies and that's how I ended up. It is just an efficient fast walk. Maybe that's obvious? Ahem! Its probably the just Lucozade talking to me...anyway my knees felt OK so I kept going. The last hour I was conscious of a potential blister on the ball of my left heel. Not a lot you can do about that. I dropped the pace a little, back down to 5 miles an hour and got to Peel just under 4 hours. A nice 5mph average. I surprised myself, I felt fine, no blisters and no sore knees.

I woke up this morning, go out of bed and nearly fell flat on my face! My legs decided to go on strike, reminding me that I had taken the %^&$ the day before. The score settled, I slowly warmed up myself and spent the morning repairing the drive. My drive is 1/4 of a mile long and I shovelled around a tonne of stone into a trailer and then back off the trailer onto the drive I was absolutely shattered at the end. So I fell asleep. I just woke up from a sleep and I feel like an old man Now my arms are killing as well as my legs and feet!

Oh well, it was a super week 45 miles and a repaired drive :-)

...and I am STILL 87 kilos!!!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Will it last?

Last week was unnervingly incident free. Got out on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Monday. I managed to cover 26 miles with the longest being a 10.5 miler.

I have purely been running to get my core fitness up in the shortest time possible and to (hopefully) strengthen my knees.

I really can feel my fitness surging back remarkably quickly! Yesterday, when the sun was out , running in a vest weather, I felt the best I have felt for a few years. Of course the temptation is to crank up the pace - but that is a dark world fully of the promise of injury. I find it SUCH a struggle to hold myself back when I feel like that. I kept looking down at my watch and seeing my pace higher than I planned even though I feel I am holding back.

Oh but to just sprint across the dunes :-)

My plan is to carry on this way, increase the mileage to 30 this week. The weekend after next I want to walk the parish section from Bride to Peel (backwards of course!) which is around 20 miles or so.

Fingers crossed, things are looking up...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Elevated Training Plans Scupperd

Happy Easter blogaholics.

My training has been going rather well this past week with a slight low on Wednesday.

I was in Leeds and had arranged to meet some colleagues outside my flat. I live on the 10th floor so, of course, I got changed and took the lift. The lift came to a juddering halt at floor 2. I waited for a while for it to restart but it didn't and none of the buttons would respond. After several minutes experimenting with the alarm button I eventually got through to an operator. The conversation went something like:

Operator: Hello?
Me : Hi.
Operator: Are you in a lift?
Me : (wanted to say no you got the wrong number!) Yes I am.
Operator: Are you stuck?
Me: (wanting to say - no I just needed to talk to someone) Yes I am.
Operator: Where are you?
Me: You mean like - what floor?
Operator: No, which city.
Me: (wanting to sue the management company) I am in Leeds
Operator: Do you have amobile phone to call the fire brigade with?
Me: No! I am wearing lycra and trying to go for a run!

75 minutes later the fire brigade forced the doors open. I didn't bother going for a run, I went to the pub instead. My friends (not surprisingly) hadn't waited for me.

The rest of the week was excellent. I did a half Marathon round the north of the Island, mainly offroad on the Ayres on Sunday.

I am currently teetotal - 2 days and counting. Watch this space...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Kneesy Does it

Last week was a good one for me. I feel like I am making progress. I got out again on Friday and did a nice 4 mile run through the Bride hills. On Saturday I got up early while the girls went to Ballet in Douglas and went out.

Funny thing for me is that I can run for two hours but walking for two hours is harder as it puts a lot of strain on my knees. Last weekend I had to run walk - alternating every 15mins to take the strain off. The irony is that run-walking is supposed to alleviate the strain of running giving you a chance to recover while walking, whereas I am run-walking to alleviate the strain of running!? If I am to walk for a day or so in June non stop, it seems reasonable that I should be able to walk for two hours non stop in March. So that's exactly what I did. I didn't have a GPS or anything but I guesstimate it was between 9 and 10 miles.

Now its Monday morning. I got up early to do a quick 4 mile run and my right knee is too sore. It feels inflamed under the kneecap. I know its from locking it back racewalk style for those two hours. I have been doing strength exercises in both my shoulder and my ITB to help prevent injury but the knee pain is back. Problem is its even too tender to run on.

So here I am wondering why I am continually beset by problem week after week. Maybe I overdid it? Perhaps so, but if I am to walk all day long by June I am rather painted into a corner and have little choice but to walk further.

I am worried about my knee and wonder if I should try and walk fast instead of doing knee locking racewalking. Can I go fast enough to do the Parish this way? What do other people do?


Answers on a postcard please...

Thursday, 13 March 2008


So it would appear that I have been raised from the dead.

Actually it was more like a sporting depression. I apologise to the blogaholics and the poor folk coming here via the parish site for inspiration for my transgression to the quiet side.

I had not wanted to post as it was all doom and gloom. However, upon reflection (and pressure from fellow blogger) I have decided that this all needs to be captured because certainly my experiences are by no means unique!

While I was skiing I broke a rib which made walking and running quite painful. Three weeks later and it only hurts when I poke it (so don't?) and when I sneeze or laugh now. I put on a kilo during those three weeks so I am 88stone and the Parish seems all rather close for someone who feels fat and unfit. However, I have entered, I am healthy and I am determined to give it my best shot.

So, training - I did my first run last Wednesday - just 4 miles - its was okay although I felt like a slug. On Sunday I probably unwisely took a gamble and went out for 2 hours - run / race walking - switching from one to the other about every 15mins. I think I probably covered about 11 miles. I felt the need to kick start my system and give my metabolism a wake up call. On Monday I did a 4 mile run and managed to do 4 miles last night (Wednesday) too.

If I can up the mileage a little next week, then I feel I will be making progress again - I have to really concentrate on core fitness now.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Injured but not down

I fell down the stairs around six years ago. Not a big fall, but in breaking my fall, i damaged a ligament holding my left arm in the socket. For a long while it remained undiagnosed. I now know that its a permanent injury and that regular physio exercises giving good muscle strength around the shoulder reinforce the strength of the shoulder.

I moved back to the Island in August and never unpacked my weights. A problem forgotten. After the Ronaldsway race, my shoulder flared up again. It becomes so inflamed that the shoulder actually pinches the surrounding muscles leaving me with a virtually useless left arm.

I have been back to see my specialist who has severely reprimanded me for being such a twit and not keeping the exercises up. I have started doing them again and my arm is operational once again for which I am very grateful.

Problem is twofold - i) I can't get out training until its stable and ii) I am STILL 87 kilos!!

The problem is getting better at a rapid rate of knots and I am hoping to get out for a first session this weekend.

Lastly, check out my live updated Isle of Man weather report at the bottom of the page!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Another week, another Race

Since getting back, things have been going reasonably well on the training front. I have been trying to mix the training up, some walking, some running. I even managed to run up North Barrule (local fells) last weekend from the Verranda and back. I was delighted to get up and down in 1 hour 20.

I went for a longer run in the dark along the Leeds/Liverpool canal on Wednesday night. I trod on a round stone and rolled my ankle over and ended up hopping along cursing at myself for such stupidity. After limping back to my flat in Leeds I was forced to rest until yesterdays race.

I got down to Ronaldsway happy that my ankle was feeling fine and feeling fresh from a three day break. I managed 69:12 at St Johns before Christmas so I was determined to set a SB (seasons best is probably the best way for me to describe things from now on) . The course was 10 1k laps. I went well on on the first two laps but somehow got myself into a dip in the middle of the race. I was apprehensive of going too fast and ruining my chances of finishing. I am still struggling to find my pace properly. I got into a good battle with some folk I caught up with but then my food went numb and I had to stop and readjust my shoes losing valuable seconds.

The stop probably helped me as I got anger with myself for not having got this detail right at the start and chased off at a much stronger pace. With three laps to go, Marie Gilbertson caught me up. Marie is faster than me on paper so I decided that I was going to catch a tow and stay with her until I collapsed. Luckily I didn't and this propelled me a further 6 places up the field and I finished in 5th place in 67:46 beating my previous time by 1 minute 26.

Given the fact that I am STILL 87 kilos and I had a rubbish month with little training I am content with the time. I know that the weight is a significant factor in my performance at the moment. The next race is the 10th of Feb. I want to go under 65 mins. my research into these things tells me that 2 kilos should be enough to secure that without getting any fitter.

My current plan is to try and train 5 times a week for the next fortnight and concentrate on the weight thing as a priority. I am off for a weekend snowboarding in the alps next weekend so, logically, my other aim is to stay in one piece!

I wanted to say a quick thank you to Michael for showing me some very useful ITB strengthening exercises. They are harder than they look!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Feels good to be back

I am back in training at last. 77.2 Kilos. Today I did my first session since the 21st of December. Winter virus's really truly are the scourge. The one at Christmas left me with a nasty chesty cough which prevented me from exercising.

I was also disappointed to miss the winter league race on the 6th of January, especially because it was my local race in Andreas. Even more the shame as looking at the times I would have had a good handicap tussle with Chris Cale I think. But never mind that, I will just have to beat him at Ronaldsway instead :-)

I felt good today, went very steady. Cardio wise I was strong. I felt it pulling at my hip abductors. Before Christmas my knees were starting to feel quite sore, a repetitive impact injury. The break did them good and I didn't feel any problems in them at all today.

Hopefully its all systems go again now.