I have come to realise that training, although sometimes enjoyable,is a necessary evil to achieve a level of fitness but there is nothing like a race, and the spirit of competition,to spur you on to maybe another level.
As an aid to my training, I decided to enter the 10 mile Peel-Douglas held on 14th January and see if I could learn anything about myself and gauge how I was progressing. In training, I have been walking at about 5mph so set myself a target of sub 2 hours.
Having got a lift down from fellow hotelier and secret android Mike George, I was quite nervous as this was my first race since September. Especially glancing round at the array of walking talent, you start to think " do I belong here?"
The race started ok enough for me and I was in company with Parish Walk finisher Matthew Haddock(who went on to finish 3rd placed novice)but it soon started to go pear shaped.Taken out of my comfort zone and perhaps going off too quickly, I began to tire, my dreaded shins were screaming and I was passed by about ten competitors. I was breathing hard to get oxygen into my lungs, negative thoughts were going through my brain and I was desperately telling myself to try to keep it together and get through this. I was having trouble just pointing my toe and was not in good shape.
Maureen Moffat, who went on to win 1st Novice Lady, then came past me on the approach to Tynwald Hill and I decided at that moment that enough was enough and I would keep her in sight.
One thing I will never do again, unless it is lashing down, is walk in a waterproof. I was over-heating badly and needed to lose it. No worries, I had pre-arranged to meet my wife Kerry at the Hawthorn pub and she could take it. But on passing there, she was nowhere to be seen. This is a potential calamity for me and it sets me off thinking about things I shouldn't...Where is she ? Doesn't she know I am hurting ? Jesus, I am hot !! (Are all walkers like this or is it just me ? The slightest thing to annoy you can get blown out of all proportion in your head and really put you off your focus !I used to play football with a broken nose but hell will burn if I get a crease in my racewalking shorts ! ) Luckily, wife and kids are around the next corner and I can finally ditch the said item.
I was feeling much better ( and cooler) and by the top of the Highlander was starting to relax, enjoy the race and get into a rhythm. As I turned into Glen Vine, by Marown TV, I was passed by Julia Ferner which spurred me on and gave me someone to race with. Over the next 3 miles, we diced and encouraged each other and passed about five racers, including the afore-mentioned Maureen. I was finishing really strongly and the fastest part of my race was the last mile and a half. I managed to outlast Julia on the approach to the QB ( sorry Julia, if you are reading this ! ) and beat her by 1 second. I was quite pleased with my time of 115 mins, which was faster than I had been doing in training.
I feel I learnt quite a lot from this race. Firstly, never to go all out from the start line as the price will be paid later. I also discovered that I have the mental ability to battle through bad periods,of which there are likely to be many in the big race. I feel this was my own mini- Parish and the first rung on a long ladder!
Just think, if this had been the 23rd June, I would still have another 75 miles to go ! How the hell am I going to do this !!!