Monday, 25 June 2007

Bruised,battered and blistered...but not beaten !

Well, that's it for another year, I can't believe it's all over. Look at me there just before Braddan Bridge, don't I look fresh !

Much to my disgust, I didn't manage to get round but it wasn't for the lack of effort. My big toenail became loose just before Peel and from there onwards it was a constant struggle with my feet. I had 2 large blisters on each heel by Jurby and another 3 nails had become loose and blistered by Bride. Then my right knee buckled under me at Andreas and it was a miracle I managed to limp to Lezayre where I cried enough. I was going well up to Bride( was in 26th place overall) and was on for roughly an 18.5 hour finish had the wheels not come off . I literally could not put one foot in front of the other and ended up in A & E at the end of the night. Never mind, I have 12 months to put things right !

I really enjoyed the day out and the atmosphere throughout the race was sensational - it really spurs you on when people are shouting for you. Personal highlights for me were :-
1/The Sloc - I did quite a bit of training up there and it paid off. I waltzed up there and must have overtaken 10 people.It is, without doubt, my favourite section of the course
2/Walking with Roey Crellin - I was with her when things were starting to go pear shaped around Jurby/ Bride and what a friendly and positive lady she is.
3/ My sodium blood level was taken in hospital and it was normal so I got the logistics right, despite struggling to eat.
Things not so good were :-
1/ My feet obviously. I got something drastically wrong - whether it was my shoes, socks or virgin feet I don't know but I have to address this.
2/ The drag from Jurby to Bride - it was endless ! It measures the distance at 7.5 miles in the route but it felt double that in the rain
3/ The path up to Andreas Church was horrible. In my Saucony shoes, which are quite light, I could feel every blister and toenail screaming on the uneven surface.
I would also thank to thank a few people in passing, if you will forgive me, hope this doesn't sound like an Oscar speech! Firstly to my wife Kerry who supported me from Arbory onwards accompanied by my mum and my kids. She did a sensational job for a first timer( also to my father in law Dave who, blisters and all after his walk to Peel, drove out and took the kids home). Secondly, to George Blair's bride-to-be Theresa who helped us both though the bad times with words of advice and gee-ups from Peel onwards. And lastly to Dick Haddock and previous finisher Dave Hall who I both knew from my football days at Onchan. Thanks a lot lads for the encouragement from Sulby onwards, sorry it was to no avail.

Personal congratulations to Mike George, for a great walk in third place with better to come in the future(maybe I can sponsor you for next year's race Mike with Ascot Hotel on the front of your shirt ?) and fellow blogger Mark Hempsall who walked the race he intended to the letter.Sorry for missing any other's out, I am new to this game and probably don't know you well enough! Also apologies to Mark, Steve and Matt for letting the team down, I was the sole non-finisher !

I have learned so much from this year's race and intend to come back fitter and stronger next year.It has been an amazing experience as a first timer so roll on 2008...only 362 days to go !

Friday, 22 June 2007

Last minute posting

This will be my final posting before the race and then hopefully the next update will be my personal review of the day itself and how, well or otherwise, it went for me.

This is a bitter sweet moment for me as I have immensely enjoyed writing and reading the blogs( I hope you have too) and have, on the whole, relished the training. However, the whole experience has somewhat dominated mine, and my family's life, for a number of months and I will be happy ( and yet sad) to get off the treadmill and have a bit of a rest.As I say bitter sweet.

I would just like to thank all the organising committee for their hard work and organisation so we can have our fun (?). It can't be easy putting on a gig like this and without their effort and committment, there would be no race. So thank you all. I would also publicly, before the big day, like to thank my wife for putting up with me over the past few months and for all her help in my preparation. She is also my sole support team and deserves some sort of medal for taking it on by herself with the kids !

I would also like to wish all competitors the best of luck for tomorrow. This is a fantastic event, second in stature on the island only to the TT in my opinion, and just enjoy being part of the day/ night. My simple tips would be :-- don't start off too quick and warm up first, eat and drink regularly, make sure you have applied some sun screen and vaseline your feet.

See you all tomorrow !

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Turning into Howard Hughes

I am so buzzed up for the race now and am writing this update at 5am - I can't sleep. I just wish Saturday would come so I can calm down !Anxiety has been manifesting itself into amusing dreams - I have a recurring nightmare where I have missed the start while my wife Kerry dreamt she ran out of bread making sandwiches! Michael George also told me he dreamt he got to Ramsey but wasn't allowed to carry on until he scored a goal - and kept missing !

I have been a nightmare at work for the past week as well. Catching anything off anyone at this late stage would be disastrous so I have turned myself into Howard Hughes - if anyone dared sneeze or cough near me, I've been legging it in the opposite direction ! I have also the heavy burden and pressure ( of finishing) of sponsor money for the IOM Anti Cancer Association weighing on my shoulders and any guest staying with me who asks me a question gets a sponsorship form thrust in their direction ! I will be lucky enough to be off work from Thursday onwards and will be glad of the rest - June is our busiest month and I intend to burrow a hole somewhere and come out on Saturday morning. By the way, if anyone would like to sponsor me, I would be delighted to hear from you - you can get me at work on 675081 or email

I have started getting ready for D-day ( it's literally like trying to organise one) sweets, gel bars, compeeds, sports drink,head torch, energy bars... I could go on ! The car has even had its yearly clean out and will be full of petrol for the first time in its life.

My first objective in the race has been reached - I have no regrets at all with my preparation. When I started training in November, I told myself I didn't want to line up on the day with any doubts of "if only ...". Aside from the usual niggles, an aggrevated blister in the Fireman's Walk and my illness over TT week, I have had few problems and have done all I could possible do as a first timer. I have made, and will make, mistakes no doubt but will be better for the experience. I have talked the talk, now I literally have to walk the walk !

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Relief and Obsession

Thankfully, I am now feeling much better ( though still not quite 100 per cent) after the dreaded virus which flattened me. I am back in training and can't tell you what a relief it was to pull my trainers back on after 9 days in the wardrobe ( shoes not me). I am very much a confidence walker and need to be out quite regularly ( you are only as good as your last walk kind of mentality). With the race being so close, the lack of activity was playing on my mind, draining me of belief.

Anyway, rant over,I went for a bit of alternative training this weekend ( felt a bit like Sylvester Stallone training in the snow in Rocky IV, kept singing Eye of the Tiger in my head ! ) and managed a two hour hike in the company of Matt H up and over Greeba Mountain. I had never scaled it before and was bowled over by the peace and beauty of the surrounds. Once I had got used to the sheep poo and the rocky terrain, I really started to enjoy it despite the sweltering heat. I obviously didn't time the session as it was just time on my feet and the perfect tonic after the lay-off. I also managed a faster 11 miler the following day (up the Sloc) in again boiling conditions - my legs felt ok and I got to try out my new I-Pod shuffle which is only about an inch square and simply the best invention ever. I will be using this when the going gets tough in the race - I am hoping it stays in the boot of the car until at least Andreas !

I really am becoming obsessional with the race -I must have walked it in my sleep a dozen times and have tried to visualise myself at the finish line with a smile on my face ! I have also been scanning the race programme and noticeable absentees, if I am reading correctly, from last year's race are Alan Cowin ( 6th), Mike Readshaw ( 7th), Deemster Doyle ( 14th) former winner Chris Flint ( 16th) and surprisingly Jane Gibson ( or is it Kennaugh) ( 22nd). Metcheck is also currently predicting a temperature of between 9-15 degrees with occasional rain for the day - perfect if it can be trusted. Hopefully with a hot early June out the way, the weather will break and be kind to us all - I await Adrian Cowin's weather forecast on the Manx Athletics forum with bated breath !

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Last minute problems

18 days to go. I remember when it was 196. I think this period is definitely called " twitchy bum " time. This is where it can all go wrong, having put so much in.

And I am not well at the moment. Caught a cold virus off the kids and can't shake it off. Including today, that's 5 days with no training, confidence is evaporating and I'm beginning to wonder whether I will be fit for the day. I think Steve mentioned in a previous posting that athletes are all hypocondriacs - I must be gold medallist then.Still, better it happened now than 2 weeks later.

Still managed to get 30 miles in last week prior to the dreaded lhergy, one 20 miler, which took just over 4 hours, and did some hill repeats in Glen Maye next to the post office - a steep hill and a good session with Matt H. The Fish needed the workout to blow away the cobwebs after a week in Greece. The trip was a disaster - ask him if you know him.

Due to the inactivity of myself and the presence of our two-wheeled friends, I have been busy preparing for the day. High viz jackets, sports drinks, extra tops, energy gels, bars and am still nowhere near there. It really is like trying to organise a D-day landing, particularly if you are a first timer. I think once you have competed in the race, you know what works and discard what doesn't, whereas I will be loaded to the gunnels with stuff I shall probably never use or need. But I would rather have it there than not.

I am looking forward to my " taper down " once I'm back on form but am not really sure what that means. If it means, doing nothing at all and having a good moan, then I am already into it !

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Doubts and fears...

Due to work piling up and a lack of time, I have only been out twice this week but the mileage was still ok. I did a 16 miler ( Boundary Stroll route in reverse ) on Monday which I found quite hard near the end. I didn't have much sleep the night before and was feeling quite sick and the last 3 miles were difficult. If anyone is aware of the Boundary Stroll route , which I mentioned in a previous posting, I suggest doing it the reverse way ie Douglas to Peel and back from Foxdale, as it is a much harder walk as you are constantly on the climb from Ballacraine onwards.

Then, due to the fact I missed out on a Champions League Final ticket in the ballot, I decided to punish myself with 2 laps of my Sloc - Colby- Rushen Church route on the day of the match ( 23 miles in total). This is a killer of a walk, especially if you don't carry enough liquid ! I ran out of fluid with 4 miles still to go which wasn't the best of planning.All I had left were dextrose tablets which made me even more thirsty ! However, having done the climb on numerous occasions in the past few weeks, the Sloc holds no fears for me whatsoever - in fact I quite enjoy it. I have got to know the route like the back of my hand and one bit of it always makes me smile. At the top of the Sloc, there is a road bollard which has been knocked over by a car and it lies at the side of the road. It looks like a huge mobile phone and reminds me of Dom Joly in Trigger Happy TV ! Well it amuses me, ok !! At the end of this particular walk, I was really knackered and had nothing left - so much so I hardly shouted at the telly at all during the match !

As the race approaches, I find myself thinking and worrying about irrational fears of which I have no control. Here is a snapshot of my murky mind :-

1/ What if the kids are unwell and we have a sleepless night on the 22nd June ?
2/ What if my support car breaks down ?
3/ Will my back hold out ?
4/ I have just bought new shoes. What if they are not broken it properly on the day ?
5/ What if pick up a virus from the kids ?
6/ What if I fall out with my wife and she tells me she's no longer my sole support team ?

See what I mean.Barking mad,completely neurotic and not like me at all. Get a grip Dave !

I think the next fortnight is going to be really frustrating for me, as I'm going to be really busy at work and won't have much time for training. That is bound to get me thinking ......have I done enough ?? I will be glad when this race is underway !!

Monday, 14 May 2007

What to eat ?

I don't know whether it's been blind panic on my behalf, with only five and a bit weeks to go, or whether it's because I am injury free but this week has been the most mileage I have managed to complile. In the last 6 days, from last Tuesday ( 8th May) to today ,I have got exactly 49 miles under my belt with amazingly, no flare- ups in any department( if that isn't tempting fate then I don't know what is !!)

The regime in the week was quite simple - I did three loops of my Sloc- Round Table-Colby-Rushen Church route, which is 11.4 miles each circuit, and a 15 miler this morning which was basically the Boundary Stroll route from Douglas to Foxdale, St Johns and back home along the Peel road. Just to prove how sad I am and how obsessed with time I have become, my average speed throughout the entire week was 5.15mph. I just need to string it together at the same time over a longer distance of ground !

The 3 Sloc laps were interesting as no one day was the same. One day wind behind, next day rain and on Sunday a north-westerly wind in your face which made the climb even harder. God help us all if it is a warm day come 23rd June and then having to face a breeze like that in your face. But, that is a reality and it was good to face it and battle through it.

The 15 mile walk this morning was also an eye-opener due to the weather. It started out cloudy, yet by halfway myself and Mark H were in blazing sunshine. Nothing can be taken for granted with the island's climate and both of us voiced great concerns, and a complete change of game-plan, if we have a hot one.

I am still learning the science and logistics of this game, and if I'm honest, I haven't got a clue what I'm doing. It bothers me immensely that I , for a novice and rookie, have trained quite hard yet it can all be easily undone by poor preparation and not eating and drinking the right things. I want to give myself the best possible chance and illiminate as many mistakes as I can and for that reason, I will be attending one of the talks held by Sports Nutritionist Kathryn Sentance next week. Any nuggets which anyone could throw my way in the meantime would be much appreciated too - please feel free to leave me a comment !!