Monday, 17 February 2014

......probably rain

This Saturday, Vinny, Richard G and I met up at the NSC at 8. The weather was as miserable as ever with intermittent rain being driven by strong winds from the south west. Weather like this seems to have become the 'norm' at the moment and it makes training a little bit tedious. A glimmer of hope was offered by a TV weatherman on Friday who suggested that after today, Monday, (gales, rain, wintry showers etc......) the weather would become more like that 'of a normal February.' Upon mentioning this gem of forecasting to Vinny, he reminded me that February's normal version of the weather is rain. So, not much of a change then other than the rain being vertical rather than horizontal.
Training in this sort of weather is always a juggling act of trying to keep warm and dry whilst not over dressing and becoming too warm. It is all too easy to go one way or the other: we have all seen people walking along the road with a hi vis jacket tied around their waist. Conversely, when you get too cold we are more susceptible to muscle injuries.
Looking for a different route than the usual ones, we headed west on Braddan road and out to Crosby via Mount Rule into the prevailing wind and rain. On this road, I was glad I had had the forethought to wear skins rather than shorts as the wind and rain was pretty ferocious and in combination with the cold air temperature was making it a struggle to get and stay warm. We got a few minutes of respite when this road turns down towards the crossroads on Peel Road and we were no longer exposed to the elements.
The rain remained intermittent as we headed south  until we reached the Orrisdale Road south of Saint Marks. We took this road and then followed the Parish Walk route backwards towards Douglas. To add a couple of more miles, we went along Marine Drive. So although it was a fairly uneventful walk of 19 miles, I was glad to get home to thaw out in the shower!
We saw very few others out training but given the hideousness of the weather, that wasn't surprising. We probably got some odd looks from passing motorists as we trudged through the soggy Manx countryside but I didn't notice as I was focussing on avoiding the next puddle.
On Mondays,  our son Stephen goes to racewalk training on the track at the NSC. While he was busy, I took opportunity to run a few steady laps around the perimeter road which is exactly 0.5 miles. It was raining.
In July this year (19th I think), the Millennium Way Relay is being resurrected and I fancy having a go at one of the 4 legs so I plan to do a bit of cross training as the Parish mileage starts to ramp up. This will improve my general fitness and I know of other walkers who also do some running as an aid to general fitness.
The long range forecast for this event is......

Tuesday, 4 February 2014


Sunday saw the final round of the Up & Running sponsored Winter Walking League organised by Manx Harriers. A series of five races held at various venues on the island, the events are handicapped meaning the playing field is essentially levelled and literally anybody can win providing they have a good race on the day. I didn't.
To be honest, I didn't really expect to do too well as I am only now coming back to fitness following an extended break which ended mid January. It is surprising how quickly fitness levels drop during a break whether enforced or otherwise and it can be very frustrating if you can't get out to train regardless of the reason. What is perhaps more frustrating is the time it seems to take to get that general fitness and sharpness back again.
I actually felt ok on Sunday morning when I arrived at the NSC for the race, however I was greeted with an observant "You look pasty, were you out last night?". Not even a 'hello'. To be fair,  I have been known to have a few beers the night before a race which, far from being ideal preparation, always seems like a good idea at the time. Eight or ten pints plus five hours' sleep seem perfectly sensible ingredients for producing a pb the following day.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if, over the years, a hefty percentage of Parish Walk entrants have agreed to sign up during a fit of man-up ness (previously know as bravado) and chest puffing in the pub after pint number five. A new stat for Murray Lambden to look into perhaps.
The fairly simple equation for a 'man-up' induced Parish Walk entry is: Beer + chicken noises from friends + more beer & 3 x Jaeger bombs + kebab = PW entry. Its that simple. I reckon that will sound familiar to someone.
Anyway, as it turned out I hadn't been out the previous night, and felt good to go. I wasn't expecting to do particularly well but would be happy with around 53½ minutes for the 10k.
Being a handicapped race, I set off around 43 minutes after the first person started. Vinny had set off a couple of minutes before me and Richard Gerrard a minute and a half after me.
The idea of a handicapped race is to a) ensure the fastest competitors don't win (unless they have an absolute blinder); and b) to try to get everyone finished within a couple of minutes of each other.
So, in a nutshell, the idea is to chase down those who started ahead of you which is great as you will always see someone to try and catch up.
I set off after Vinny at what I thought was a fairly strong but comfortable pace, expecting him to come into view after a couple of laps. After about 5 laps of the 800m course, I had slowed down as my legs were feeling heavy and wasn't getting anywhere fast. It was at this point that I could hear Vinny coming up behind me. This was all wrong because, as he had started ahead of me, I was supposed to be catching him up, not the other way around! Richard flew past us both at this point clearly feeling much better that I was.
Being caught by Vinny gave me the kick up the back side I obviously needed and I am glad to say that the second half of my race was better than the first and I rolled in after 54½ minutes which I was happy with, all things considered. I probably had a negative split but, as my trusty watch had died before the start, I have no idea.
I was told, by the same person who had commented on my pastiness earlier, that I now looked 'even worse'! I couldn't even use the excuse of being out the night before. Whatevs.
There were some very good performances on the day with Richard Gerrard dipping under 50 minutes for the first time, Dave Walker setting a new pb by over two minutes and Stuart Jones winning the race.
Performance of the day however probably went to Alex Eaton who, after a night on the pop, rocked up and posted a sub 48 minute 10k. Well done to him.
Mentally, I can achieve both of those feats.
Physically though, one is infinitely more likely than the other.
This Saturday, we're planning to head out to Laxey again but this time to incorporate the Glen Roy loop which will take the distance up to about 20 miles. This is a hilly route which is a great work out and a good test of stamina and fitness.
Sunday sees the final XC race of the season which will be held at Ballanette in Lonan. This is usually a dry course with only one boggy bit each lap however, with the weather the way it has been recently, it will probably be a wet course with one dry bit somewhere. Excellent.