I'm quite sad that this will be my last post on the blog now that the Parish is all over for another year. :(
Firstly I hope that you all had a good time yesterday whether you were walking, marshalling, supporting or just watching. A big well done to everyone involved!
I had a great time even though the walking side of things went by the board, because yesterday really helped bring home to me the spirit and camaraderie of the event even more than in previous years and I saw so much more of the route.
I drank too much, went too fast, got cramp and felt below par. This combination is what forced me to stop, but I'm convinced that it was due to the combination rather than one isolated factor. I think I might have been able to go a bit further had I not filled up on Lucozade. I eased off a fair bit after Malew but eventually just felt too queasy to carry on without doing some damage. Sometimes you have to know when to stop. The Parish may be as much in the head as the body, but maybe there are times when you have to give in to the mental side to protect the physical.
Even after I got home, the Parish wasn't over for me. I had agreed to do some support driving for Alex Wijsman, who finished on his debut last year and was hoping to do so again. I got home, freshened up and then drove out to Jurby at about 5.30 to sort out the first shift of support. One of my friends was doing from 5pm until 10 and then I was going to take over after that. Once we made contact with Alex, I came back home for some hot food and to prepare some flasks for the night shift. I then went out at about 9.30 to meet Alex at Maughold and see him through to the finish.
I took a roundabout route to Maughold so I could see a bit of the northern part of the course and just check on a couple of people to see how they were getting on and to see if they needed anything. I hooked up with the course at Bride and drove to Andreas. I was amazed at the atmosphere at the Andreas roundabout, which I had heard about on Manx Radio but had never actually seen in the flesh. It seemed like all of Andreas village was out having a BBQ, and this was near enough 10pm! It was fantastic and really epitomises the community spirit of the event, which I think is one of the reasons that makes the Parish so special.
After a quick 'I'm ok thanks' from the walkers I was keeping an eye on, I headed straight for Maughold. I followed Alex home in the car with his wife and a friend of mine. It was really satisfying to know we were making a difference, especially as we were able to give water and a bit of food to some of the other walkers who needed some. I was also able to appreciate for the first time how hard it must be from about Lezayre to the finish, because of the darkness and the loneliness of it all. I know the whole course is hard but plodding under the trees on that single track road in Maughold, miles from anywhere, must take real determination. Very well done to everyone who made it that far and further.
I'd also never seen the finish, so it was great to be there to welcome some of the walkers home, many of whom were really flying along the prom - a great effort after 84 miles! I'd not long got Alex back to the hotel when I got back down to the prom just in time to see Bernie Ball finish. I've done some training with Bernie and her dad Tony this year so I was glad to be there to see Bernie finish for the first time and also as the first lady in her category.
Finally then, some thank-yous. I'm indebted to many many people who have helped me this year, whether it's been improving my technique, accompanying me on training walks or just putting up with me talking about the Parish all the time!
I'm very grateful to Murray for asking me to do this blog in the first place, something that took me totally by surprise. I've really enjoyed it and hope that you have been able to take something from it, however small. Thanks also and a big 'well done' to my fellow bloggers Julia and Martijn, who not only provided me with ideas and hints but who also achieved exactly what they hoped to do during the race.
Many people have suggested to me how to improve my walking and get the most from it, especially during the evening NSC sessions I attended, so I owe many thanks to everyone I met down there, especially Allan Callow whose advice has really improved my technique over the last few months. When I decided I wanted to take walking a bit more seriously, I entered some events and went to training sessions without knowing anybody but could not have been made to feel more welcome. Now there are many friendly faces at all the walking events.
Thanks also to everyone between Malew and Rushen yesterday, whose advice on what to eat and drink when I wasn't feeling to good really helped me recover!
It may be 364 days away but I'm already looking forward to next year(!) I'll be too old for the U-21 event so the sprint to Peel can no longer tempt me. I'll be sticking to 4mph and just walking for fun to enjoy everything along the way and get as far as I can. See you on the start line. :)