Friday, 26 December 2008

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Last Sunday, I went for a 3 hour walk and covered about 12 Miles. I was really struggling at the beginning and I almost turned around early to head home. My back started hurting straight away. Every 20 steps, my back went and my left side of my body collapsed for a split second. It affected me worse whilst walking downhill. To stop it from happening I slowed down. I didn't walk as fast as what I would have liked, but it couldn't be helped.

I tried to ignore the pain and eventually it went away, but I deliberately didn't speed up as I was scared that the pain would come back. I walked from my house to Ard Whallin and back. I left my house at 9am and had dancing at 12 so I had to time it well.

Once I got going, the walk was really enjoyable because I wasn't sure where I was or where I was going. The route was very scenic too. When I discovered Ard Whallin, I was very surprised.

At the time, I had a suspicion that if you keep following the same path it leads to Kirk Michael.....eventually. Today, I decided to drive home from Kirk Michael this way to see if I was right and too make sure I know the route before I do it on foot. Turns out, you cannot get lost and it is hilly and very scenic. A walk in which I'll definitely look forward too.

I apologise now to everyone for my lack of direction. I have been living on the Isle of Man for 10 years and my sense of direction is awful. (Something I inherited from my dad.)

Since the 12 mile walk, I have been on a 6 mile run and a 2 hour session at the gym. Oh.....on Christmas day I walked 4 miles with my family, but we couldn't have walked slower if we tried so can't really count that.

I would have liked to have done more but I suppose because it's Christmas time, I have an excellent excuse. Today, in total, I have seen three runners and about 10 cyclists and I almost felt guilty, either that or jealous that it's not me.

Anyway, changing the subject completely, there is something that really annoys me and I have been meaning to mention this ever since starting the blog. Two things annoy me:

1) When people do not have a sense of distance. IE/ a 10 mile walk shouldn't take longer than 1 hour or how can you possibly walk from home to town? It's a 2 mile walk which takes hours?

2) When people do not have a clue how hard long distance walking can be. Some people actually think that because it's walking it must be easy. No training is needed. Then are surprised to see that my muscles are sore after a 50 mile walk? I don't understand how you can say walking such a distance is easy if you haven’t even attempted it. You should only be entitled to say such a thing if you experience walking long distance first hand. Instead, you can appreciate it, by watching the Parish walk finishers. Not the people who finish-unbelievably in 16 hours, I'm talking about the people who struggle over the line in 23 hours or longer.

In this years End to End, I started talking to a guy for company. I can't remember his name but he told me that the reason why he was taking part is because he didn't understand the 'big deal' about long distance walking on the Isle of Man. He hadn't done it before because it's 'too easy' and therefore pointless. He told me that someone persuaded him to take part in order to prove him wrong. He also said that it was a lot harder than he expected, he was in a lot of pain and that it is the 1st and last event he would take part in. He also said that he had respect for all long distance walkers. I suppose, I have respect for him for at least giving it a go and trying it out.

There, I have said it, it's out of my system and I won't mention it again.

Before I go, I'm going to say this now (and highlight it too) to make sure everyone reads it and therefore ensures it happens. I am going to walk home from Kirk Michael tomorrow morning and walk this new route I discovered. I'll let you know how it went in my next blog.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

End to End 2007! (Worst pain ever)

This is a picture of me during last years End to End walk. I was 20 and wasn't allowed to officially finish, but I carried on regardless. They were taking off my chip around my wrist and I later took off my number. I was in serious pain, I had the worst blisters ever. I don't know how I made it and I don't know why I do it to myself sometimes.
I haven’t done as much walking as I would have liked this week, but I don't think I should be to disappointed because I've learnt a lot from others. On Monday I went for a 1 hour and 10 minute walk after work (this is all I had time for.) I literally walked as fast as I could. I managed to go up and down the prom twice which I was pleased with.

On Tuesday, I went to the NSC to learn the technique for race walking, it's the 2nd session I've been to and I will continue going every Tuesday but I don't know if it will benefit me much?
Because.... it sounds bad, but I’m not really bothered what time I complete the Parish in, obviously the faster the better, but to be honest I'd be the happiest person on earth if I just complete it....even if it's outside the 24 hours. My plan is to walk 4 miles an hour consistently throughout the course and although this will feel really slow in the first half, I'm hoping it will pay off later.

I'm capable of walking almost 5 miles an hour. This is the pace I have been going in previous Parish walks, but I think this is too fast if I am aiming to complete it. If there is any chance if me finishing, I really need to pace myself.

In a way, this years Parish walk will be more enjoyable, because I won't have the pressure of beating my time or winning the "under 21 ladies" to Peel. I'll probably have more people to talk to because I'll be in the middle where the bulk of people will be rather than closer to the front where people are more spread out. Although, I suppose, I'll have a lot of pressure to finish, considering I’ve written a blog and talked about it non-stop for the last 6 Months.

Anyway, back to what I was saying, everyone was assuring me that if I learn the technique to race walk, it will definitely help which is why I am going to keep going. My only concern is, I have never used this style of walking in any long distance race before and I am worried that changing the style for the Parish might be risky. I'm very grateful that the Sara Killey (7 station challenge) event is before the Parish. I can use this event as an experiment to see if it works for me.

I saw Mark Hempsell and Lez that night and they both gave me loads of advise on what I should eat during the walk and what I should wear. Lez said I should do weights to get stronger.

Since Tuesday, I have gone to the gym 3 times, 1 session was just weight training whilst the other 2 sessions was cardio. I realised whilst doing the weights, how weak I really am. I only did 2 sets of 10 or 12 on most of the machines using what most people would call light weights. But I am aching all over.

I was going to walk home from Kirk Michael to Douglas this morning but I have such a bad cold at the moment and when I woke up in the morning I felt so ill that I decided not too.

During the week, I froze my membership at Courfour gym because I thought this would help, by getting me out walking. I also thought that I wouldn’t get my monies worth because of the walking I’ll be doing. But since, I have been told that you need to be extra fit to complete the Parish and having strength helps.

I'm worried that if I do nothing but walk for the next 6 Months, my fitness and stamina won’t be as good. For this reason, I cancelled freezing my membership and I'm going to go to the gym most lunch times during the weak to do weight training. This leaves the evening free to walk.

Another thing which I've started doing is dabbing surgical spirit on my feet and under my arms with cotton wool. I suffer from blisters and rashes under my arms from friction when I walk. I'm starting this now as a daily routine so that my skin will be hard for the event and hopefully won't suffer from this much. It might be a bit early to do this but in the past I've always said to my self that I must harden my skin for all long distance walking events and I don't ever get round to doing it and I always regret it. So this time, I’m just doing it now otherwise it won’t happen… again. (There’s no time like the present.)

In the last years End to End, I was only 20 and I couldn't officially do the full 40 miles but I ended up taking my number off and carrying on regardless. I did this as training for the 2009 Parish walk. Anyway, I bought some new socks from Intersport the day before-which guaranteed “no blisters or your money back.” I stupidly wore these socks for the end to end for the 1st time and you wouldn't believe how bad my feet were-even early on. I didn't have any skin left on my heels. It looked red raw. I didn't dare look at my feet because I was in that much pain and when I did finally take my shoes and socks off-when I finished, I couldn't believe it, it was worse than what I thought and worse than anything I’ve ever saw before. Thinking about it now, I don’t know how I finished. If I had of looked at my feet whilst walking or tried to patch it up with plasters, I don’t think I would have been able to carry on. (I haven’t worn those socks since). I went through all that pain and I wasn't even recognised as a finisher in the newspaper or in my certificate. This is an example of mind over matter. Somehow, I always manage to reach my target no matter what. This will help me on the Parish walk day.

However, I am definitely not making that mistake again. I'm going to buy all the clothes I might need in the January sales using the Intersport vouchers I won for coming 2nd in the Ladies under 21's to Peel. For the last 3 years, I've always saved the vouchers for the January sales and have managed to get all my sports clothes for free. That's one thing I'll miss. I'll also miss not winning anything anymore, walking or running. (now that I'm not in the under 21 category.)

Again....I am highlighting any exercise I do for my benefit. It helps me keep track of my training.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Getting started

Since writing my last blog, I've really started training. I haven't done any walking previously because for the last few Months I've been here, there and everywhere and I'm now on the Island untill Febuary.

On Thursday 11 December, I walked in total, 3 hours 15 minutes and this includes walking home from work. (which takes 30 minutes). I left the house at 18:00 and returned home at 20:45. I wanted to avoid the usual winter running route which I do but it involved walking on some really dark streets with little lighting which I probably shouldn't have done and probably won't do again because at times I felt un safe despite wearing my fluorescent bib. I walked around the streets of Douglas where the street lighting was fine but then I headed out to UnionMills up Strang road and back to Douglas passing the new hospital. I then walked up by Kirby Garden centre and along the back road by B&Q which lead to the Quay. I walked along the prom which was annoying. (I forgot cars could park on the prom during Christmas and then I was going to walk to Onchan but it started raining heavily so I chickened out and walked the most direct route home.

On Friday, 12 December I walked to work and back-1 hour in total. (I don't see this as training but I am later going to tally the estimated miles I have walked since my previous blog.)

On Saturday 13 December, I met my friends in town for 12. Although it only takes 30 minutes to walk to town, I decided to leave at 11 and take a longer route. I was going to start earlier but I got distracted. I was on the internet looking for possible walking events/races I could do between now and the Parish but this wasn't sucessful. Everything I found was after June which doesn't help, and I was disappointed when I saw all the races I could have done recently- Syd Quirk which is a half marathon walk or run in Castletown and Peel to Douglas but I was away for these events. I did find a walk in St Johns on Sunday 14 Dec, sign in time 09:30 for a 10:00 start but have dancing at 12 in Douglas and wouldn't have been back in time.

Sunday 14 Dec, I was at my boyfriends house in Kirk Michael and I decided to walk to Douglas via Peel (for saftey) in time for dancing which starts at 12pm. My timing was perfect. I left Dan's house at 8:10 and arrived in time for dancing at 11:50. A total of 3 hours 40 minutes and a distance of 16 miles.

Since Thursday, I have walked roughly 37 miles. Which is a good start, I just have to keep going, untill June.

I felt fine whilst walking to dancing today-I didn't get any blisters, my muscles/bones felt fine and I wasn't tired iether. Which is a real confidence booster. However later when I got home I discovered rash marks on my skin from where my clothes had been rubbing and although it didn't hurt at the time, it hurts now and probably would have started hurting had I carried on for much longer. This is usually something I suffer from but it could have been worse than normal because I wasn't really prepared and didn't have the clothes I would usually walk in. I had to borrow Dan's Liverpool jacket-which was huge. (He's 6ft 4 and I'm 5 ft 2)

I think it is quite handy that Dan lives in Kirk Michael because, I will be able to see him more often whilst fitting in my training at the same time. For example, I could walk to Peel straight after I finish work and on Sundays, I could walk to or from dancing which I have just done. I think this method suits me better because I actually have a destination in mind and I can't take a short cut home and there's a purpose to the walk too. The problem with this is, I often start running, to get there quicker which defeats the whole object. But this was a while ago when I suppose I didn't really see it as specific training for the Parish.

Right, I will leave it there for today, but before I go, I thought I would mention the reason why I have highlighted the distance in which I have walked. It is to keep an easy record of exactly what I have done. The aim being, that hopefully, I will continue doing this and a few days before the Parish walk event, I can record what I have done on a piece of paper and bring it with me. It will give me confidence because I have done the training and will also be a security for when I am struggling. I will look at the piece of paper and the training and preperation that I did and it will keep me going. (Or that is the plan).

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Preperation for the Parish

I have just arrived home from Orlando Florida. I feel jet lagged and through no fault of my own -not the healthiest. I have eaten salty, fatty foods for 10 days in a row. (You must realise for those who have not been to America, that their is nothing healthy too eat, so I had no choice.) Not once, did I enjoy eating, I only eat because I was hungry. All week I was craving fruit, vegetables and salad. I feel the unhealthiest I've been all year due to the food I've eaten and limited sleep. The timing also couldn't be worse because Christmas is approaching. I'll just have to stay away from the treats but that's easier said than done.

However, I really shouldn't complain, it was my choice to go and I went for a good cause. I was a volunteer for the charity Caudwell Children's, I took terminally ill children and their families on holiday. It was extremely rewarding and an 'eye-opener'. I learnt what some families have to deal with in everyday life. I have always known how lucky I am but this has just emphasized this even more. I've learnt more about myself and know that charity work is something I want to continue doing.

I discovered a gym in the hotel 2 days before leaving which is typical. Anyway, I managed to go to the gym twice. The gym was very basic and some machines weren't working and their was no water either, but it does the job I suppose. Generally speaking, I don't really train for the Parish Walk. I keep fit by going to the gym, running and cycling etc, which some people may consider as training, but I would do that regardless. Instead, what I do is apply for all the long distance walking events such as the Peel to Douglas, 'End 2 End' (40 miles) and the '7 station challenge' (50.5 miles). The reason why I do this is because I only take the Parish seriously, so I'll use the other walking events as training. The 7 station challenge gives me a real confidence because it is a much further distance. It seems to do the trick, because so far I have always reached my goals.

The first time I took part in the Parish Walk was in 2006. I wanted to be the first under 21 lady. At the time, I thought perhaps I'm aiming a little too high and I’ll just be disappointed but I tried really hard and achieved my goal in 7 hours 2 minutes. Although, I was really chuffed with myself, I somehow remember feeling disappointed that I didn't complete it in under 7 hours. In 2007, I felt it was compulsory to beat my original time and although I was aiming for 1st under 21 again, I felt it was more important to beat my time and promised myself I would be happy with that. As it was, I beat my time, completing the Parish to Peel in 6 hours 58 minutes and came 1st under 21 lady again. In 2008, I beat my time again and got to Peel in 6 hours 57 minutes, unfortunately however, I came 2nd under 21 lady this time and not 1st which truthfully I was aiming for. But considering the weather-which was awful, I was still very pleased with my self.

I could have given up quite easily in the latest Parish walk. I remember almost crying because I was so cold especially my hands. I suffer from Reynaud's disease which is a circulation disorder to the fingers and toes. They often feel very cold, numb and un comfortable. During a Raynaud's attack, the arteries to my fingers and toes narrow, limiting blood circulation. I remember desperately wanting energy but couldn't open any wrappers or open the lid of my water bottle. I didn't have any support with me so I remember asking other peoples back up drivers for help. I was struggling for ages which slowed me down and it took me quite a lot of time to pluck up the courage to ask for help. It was raining so hard that my I-pod and mobile phone broke which I was not impressed by. (But at the time, it felt that that was the least of my worries.)

I agree with the saying "mind over matter." I'm very mentally strong and in my experience, if you prepare yourself mentally, some how you will succeed. I'm not saying it's physically easy, because it is certainly not. More than once in every event, I could have easily quit, but I don't because I know how angry and disappointed I'd be with myself. What keeps me going is thinking about how far I've come and mentally visualizing myself walking over the finish line.

I'm going to prepare for the Parish differently this year (or at least try to). I'm attempting the full 85 mile distance, I think I have to do more walking in general rather than my usual keep fit routine. I'm going to try and find a walking partner and maybe go on a long walk every Sunday afternoon.

The problem is, I am a very busy person, I always have something to do, I think I make life difficult for myself. Recently, I've been applying for weird and wonderful adventures which I have been selected for. Such as the Caudwell children's charity which I have had to do a lot of fund raising which is time consuming. A few weeks ago I flew out to Argentina with BBC 1 for filming for a TV program called Total Wipeout. It is on TV on Saturday, 24 January 2009 on BBC1 at 20:00. Hopefully, with these events done and dusted, my life will be less hectic and busy but I still have hip-hop dancing lessons twice a week and more before a performance. I have work every weekday from 09:00-17:00 and we are continuously asked to work weekends. I want to do a few hours of voluntary charity work on the Island which I need to look at and any other spare time I have I see my friends and my boyfriend. This is why I usually opt to running or going to the gym or cycling to my boyfriends house who lives in Kirk Michael because it is less time consuming. But this is something I am going to have change to increase my chances of completing the Parish Walk in 2009.

I am going to have to leave it their for now, after talking about how I must walk more, I am going to head to the gym (even if I have only been on the Island for a few hours) best to start as you mean to go on.

In the mean time, if you know of any walking events/races between now and June 2009 (no matter what distance, short or long), I'd love to know and take part. It will really help me!