Due to work and the odd injury, I unfortunately missed the first 4 rounds of the Winter Walking League this year which has been a lost opportunity for me to gain fitness and meet new people. The six round league, each heat over a distance of 10K, is a great starting point for novice walkers to build up fitness for the Parish and pick up advice from the experts.
I managed to swap my shift around last Sunday so I could compete in Round 5 at Andreas. I was told that the circuit there is great for recording PB's as it is flat and over 6 laps. I just hoped I wouldn't be flat and get lapped too often !
Having recorded a time of 115 mins in the Peel-Douglas and finished roughly 2 minutes behind Clive Berriff in that race, my handicap mark was calculated at + 14 minutes. Naively, I didn't even realise it was a stagger start and expected us all to bomb off together ! Matthew Haddock, a lad I have quickly got to know, was 4 minutes behind me in the handicap and I was determined he wouldn't catch me ! Fear would drive me on !
In what seemed no time at all I was off ! Typically of me, I went off too quickly and my first lap of 11m 10 sec was actually my fastest. Second circuit was 8 seconds slower and the third 5 seconds slower than the second. Fatigue then seemed to set in with a 4th lap of 11m 43s , then all the top guys started to pass me - first Emma L,then Jock W, Chris C, Terry M and then Mike George. That really lets you know whereabouts you stand in the food chain when they zoom past you !
At the end of the 5th lap, I realised I was on pace to break my target of 70min so I pushed it for the final mile to record a time of 68m 46 sec. Much to my amazement, I won the race on the handicap, by a not-too-clever margin of 1min 28sec ( please be lenient guys for the next round !) from Matthew , who had clawed 3 minutes back on me.
The race went quite straight forward for me, albeit quite a lonely one(I was glad I had a stopwatch with me though, as recommended to me by Steve P). My shins weren't hurting as much as I expected, which pleased me. My only issue was I was struggling all through the race to lift my feet up and I kept scuffing my shoes. It wasn't until I got home I found I had badly marked 2 treads on both shoes - but oddly in the middle of the shoe, not at either end. It has been suggested to me that I may be walking a little flat in the foot and may need insoles in the shoes. If anyone has an opinion on this, I would be delighted to hear it.
I couldn't wait to get home to tell everyone about my"win". However, try explaining to a 6 y.o that you won the race but were not the fastest!!
I can't recommend the Winter Walking League enough and for anyone who is too scared to enter - don't be, everybody is so friendly and helpful.I am a newcomer to the sport and have been made to feel so welcome by everyone. The final round is at the NSC on Sunday 18th February, around the track perimeter, starting at 10am (sign in from 9.15am). You'll be able to spot me - after blowing my handicap mark forever, I'll be carrying 2 bags of sugar and a rucksack !