Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Last Post

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. :)


Fraser Mackay said...

Sorry to learn U had to pull out. My strategy worked and I crossed the line as a joint 181 with Paul at 23.37.11 hours. 187 people finished the race within the Official time. My fist attempt at this race on this lovely Island where the Parish Walk is a massive event and the community as a whole are involved. It was an honour to participate and I met so many nice people (walkers and supporters) along the way. As you are walking from Maughold to Lonan in total darkness, the odd walker behind or upfront for company, it is time "for mind over matter" on this hard section of the walk. Around 3.15am light began to appear on a still morning and with the dawn chorus soon rising to full volume, it was the tonic I needed to finish the race. I was 7 minutes longer than my target time. I hope to return for the "End to End" walk in September to improve on my time last year.

Best wishes. Fraser.

Julia Furner said...

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't quite make it. When I was just starting the sloc I was wondering how you were getting on and where you were. I knew you were probably miles ahead of me!

I too, often feel sick after drinking Lucazade - it's very sweet and sickly and sits funny on my stomach and then gives me stomach cramps.

I stuck to water for the 1st 25 miles and then I had a medicine designed to replenish salt and sugar - I think it's called dyralite (it's blackcurrant flavour) it tastes nasty but really gives you a boost and whats more, it keeps you going. Out of the entire walk, I only had about 4 of these medicens spread out through the whole course. It's important not to have to many or it could make you ill.

After 25 miles I started drinking Lucazade but I diluted it with water to make sure I was still getting water inside of me. It still tasted nice and it still gave me the energy I needed but it didn't make me ill.

On the last 20 miles when I was absolutely shattered, I started drinking diluted coke. This too helped me so much. However, make sure the coke is flat and diluted with water otherwise you will be feeling ill from all the fizz. I only used this when I really needed a lift because I didn't want to risk it otherwise.

I also used a tablet called nuun. You disolve the tablet in 500 ml of water and it rehydrates you. I got it from a sports shop in Liverpool after hearing some good reviews of it. It tastes very refreshing and easy to drink - even whilst doing the Parish. The website for the product is incase your interested.

As for food, mash potatoe and cheese worked for me. I got this tip from Bethany who did 2 laps last year and it obviously worked for her. (God knows how she did that, I couldn't walk another step after I finished.)

I also eat fruit, especially oranges, blueberries, strawberries and bannanas. The fruit gave me the sugar without the sickly taste. It was also very refreshing and believe it or not enjoyable to eat. (But I did have the odd chocolate bar too.)

This definately worked for me, however, my feet were in bits, I've tried everything when it comes to blisters and this is always my downfall. I thought the KY jelly might have done the trick, but not over that distance! If you have any ideas, please let me know.