Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Your number's up!

After 4 and a half month's training, a couple of injury scares I'm afraid to say my number's up........and so's yours!!

That's right the 2012 Parish Walk Programme is now available and details every entrants number. This is one of the most hotly awaited publications, and all previous finishers will scramble through the pages to see what their number is for the forthcoming race.

I've had a quick flick through and there are a few numbers to look out for:

1 - usually donned by the defending champion, but in Jock's absence this year, Vinny Lynch will have the honour. Second placed last year, if he can repeat or beat his time, he will be there or there a bouts and retain the number for next year.

2 - Richard Gerrard, my co-blogger has been beaten into 2nd seed, but take nothing away from him. If you beat him, you win the Parish - simple!

21 - Maureen Moffatt is the 2011 ladies champion, can she repeat her performance again this year - why not?

78, 41 & 42 - David Collister - 28 finishes, Ray Hughes & Anthony Kneale - 22 finishes each. These stats speak for themselves. These guys are true Parish legends. For me to match David's number would take me until I am aged 62 which is completely incomprehensible.

85 - John Watterson, my other fellow blogger, aiming for his 5th 'lap'

17, 250 & 286 - Julian Thomas, Ciaran Broad & Nick Coole. Also known as the other 3 members of the illustrious team I am delighted to be a member of - See My Vest (v1.2). I'll give you the lowdown on each of these guys and the story behind the team name at a later date.

137 - Yours truly. My number is lower than last year's (170) so that tells me I'm improving.

I could go on, but I have to sign off with one last number otherwise I'll get in trouble for not mentioning it - number 83 which is my sister, Lou Thomas aiming for her 5th finish this year.

So, there you have it, if you want to take a look yourself, click on the information tab on the left hand side of the home page and it is in the downloads section right in front of you.

Quick fitness update - I have an appointment with John Barton at 10am tomorrow as I have felt like my recovery seems to have ground to a halt so I want to get every bit of help I can before lining up on the big day.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Green Eyed Monster

It's typical isn't it, as soon as I can't train, the weather turns fantastic, and I can't take advantage of it.

Instead, I put my body on the line for you first time Parishers just to demonstrate the do's and dont's for the forthcoming walk. A few weeks ago I trained with little water just so I could describe the effects of dehydration (honest), and whilst I have been laid up I have taken advantage of the glorious sunshine, and now the top of my head is resembling something fresh you would buy from the butchers!! But surely that can't be the case I hear you ask, as I must have applied high factor sun cream - oh no, why would I need to do that?

The moral to this story is make sure you pack plenty of high factor sun cream or sun block for the big day. Regardless of whether it will be a scorcher like the last few days or not, even through cloud cover you can burn, so I highly recommend taking preventative action otherwise you'll feel it later on!

A quick training update....well there still hasn't been any.

I went to the hospital for my appointment on Thursday morning, and was delighted to hear that I would be seen by Dave Walker who most of you will (or certainly should) know is an accomplished Parish Walk veteran. I was pleased because I knew that Dave knows exactly what taking part in the Parish means, and if my injury was bad enough meaning it would keep me out of this year's event, he would tell me straight as he knows what is required to get round.

After a bit of general chit chat, Dave examined my heel and achilles area, and spelt out to me that I need to take it very very easy for the next couple of weeks. Basically, I have torn a portion of the fibres in my heel that attach the achilles tendon to the heel bone, but this should settle down in time for the big day just as long as I respect it.

On that basis, Dave said that I can start training again, but need to take it literally mile by mile, and start by walking on the flat and not to push it anywhere near full pace.

I have borrowed a Bio-Lamp from Michael George and have been spending around 30 minutes a day with it concentrated on the heel area. Simply, the lamp emits heat directly to the affected area and encourages improved circulation, and assists with recovery. Dave has also recommended that I apply topical anti-inflammatory cream as the massage motion should help with breaking down the scar tissue.

As it stands therefore, I have full range of movement back in my foot now, and although I can still feel a niggle there, it is absolutely tons better, and I reckon another week should see it pretty much sorted. The only real issue I face is the heel is sensitive to the touch and therefore need to be really careful not to bang it as it is really painful when i do - I think I've done that twice just today.

I think I will probably leave any sort of training until maybe Wednesday or Thursday which leaves me just over 3 weeks to get back into the swing of things, but hopefully, as I have trained solidly for 4 and a half months the good work I have done will remain in there.

I am keeping everything crossed.

Adam Killip dropped me a line on Friday and gave me some of his favourite motivational songs. A couple of belters in there including this one (listen to the words), but not sure about Chris Rea's Auberge!?!

I'll update on injury progress in mid week, but one final note to say it so great to see so many people out and about training at the moment, the prom seems to be one mass of hi-viz jackets.

Keep it up !!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A month to go

Here we go, we are now definitely at the business end of proceedings. No more count downs in months, and weeks we are literally into days. I can now honestly say that if you haven't done any training, or have only started recently, then don't say I haven't warned you. If you do manage to get round, you will wish you had started earlier - trust me !

Exactly 31 days from now, some of you reading this will be finished (some in more ways than one) and others of you will still be plugging away. I am hoping to be in the latter group, and looking at the time, if all goes to plan, I expect to be somewhere in the Andreas area. All being well I will have already done my stint on the blister tingling path up to the church - those of you who have made it to Andreas in the past know what I mean here.

The sickening thing is the leaders will be less than 2 hours from finishing, and putting their feet up for a well earned rest.

So as we're so close, it's time to start getting things together, and making lists for things I have run out of or just simply want. A good place to start is medical supplies, so my medical kit usually comprises the following:

Compeed plasters
Normal plasters
Medical tape
Baby wipes
Rehydration Sachets
Antiseptic Cream
Insect repellant
Sun Cream
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Deep Heat
Freeze Spray

I think most things speak for themselves here. The new item in my kit this year is my toothbrush and toothpaste. Last year on the way to Lonan Church which is literally a 2 minute walk from my house, Caroline asked me if I wanted anything from home. After 20 hours of filling myself with all sorts of food and fluids my mouth felt like a tramp's armpit, so I said 'yes, my toothbrush please'. I have to say that this was an inspired choice as I immediately felt refreshed after a quick brush, so this year it's coming with me as it could be useful a little earlier on.

I also forgot insect repellent last year, and the stretch from Jurby to Bride was dreadful for flies and other assorted insects, it was a really hot, humid evening, and they were swarming everywhere. There is nothing worse than being pestered by the little horrors so this year I will be packing the jungle formula.

The two must haves in there are the compeeds and vaseline. Compeeds for when blisters begin to appear, and they will, so if you can deal with them in the most efficient way then it will make your day more comfortable. Vaseline will be used for a couple of purposes, obviously the first one being to alleviate chaffing, but also to keep your lips moist. If it's a hot day, trust me, your lips will dry out, and become very uncomfortable.

This isn't an exhaustive list, and I reckon I have probably forgotten something, so stay tuned for updates.

Today's motivational song reminds me of starting to read the Parish blogs in 2010, and obviously reminds me of my first successful attempt at the whole distance. Dave Walker (who I understand has crocked himself, so I sincerely hope that he has a speedy recovery before the big day) was a blogger that year, and played some great music on his blog, included this one. As I said in a previous post, it doesn't necessarily have to be a tune with a banging bass line to walk to, it can sometimes be the lyrics that spur you on. This song actually inspires me because of the association of it to the walk.

Hope you like it...

Monday, 21 May 2012

Positive Mental Attitude

Over the past 72 hours, I have adopted a PMA, and I am confident that after all my niggles and recent scare I will be able to line up in 33 days alongside the rest of you, and have as good a chance as before in completing a lap.

I have been regularly icing my injured heel, and been taking the Diclofenac tablets prescribed by the A&E doctor. The combination of these and some pretty hardcore rest have seen the injury improve significantly. Although I can still feel some pain when I exert pressure, I am now able to walk virtually without a limp, and haven't needed to use the crutches since Friday.

If it continues to improve at this rate, I expect to be burning up the pavements again within the next week to 10 days. Without getting ahead of myself, I have set myself a goal as to when it should be safe to start training again. Once I can do a free standing, one legged calf raise with my left foot without any pain or fear of something twanging, I am ready to go. I certainly can't do that just yet as it still to sore and far far too early to even attempt it.

Naturally, I will be taking advice from the doctor at A&E when I return for my appointment on Thursday morning, but I am only thinking of a positive outcome.

As you would expect, training has been a no go since Wednesday night, so there really is nothing to update you with on that front. What I have been able to do however is lots of stretching to try and stay as flexible as possible, and make sure that my hamstrings don't shorten.

Not being able to train is awful, and I'm certain I've put weight on. I probably haven't but the mind plays terrible tricks on you. I am hoping that I can take a positive from this injury, and allow it to spur me on. At some point in exactly 33 days I will either have been in a pit of despair, or heading towards one, and it is this week that I can draw on to remind myself that at least I can walk.

This is the benefit of being a 'veteran' of the race, you know the highs and lows you will experience and the sort of things you can use mentally to drive you on.

I find that music is a great way to life spirits and I have down a lot of this over the past 5 days. I have listened to a lot of music that I use to motivate me on the day, and I want to share with you some of the fantastic tunes that for one reason or another give me an extra boost when needed. Some are really upbeat that just make you go that bit quicker as they make you walk to the beat. Other songs may have special meanings in the lyrics which drive you one, others have a combination of both, and these are real gems.

I have a really eclectic taste in music and over the next few weeks, I will share some of my favourites with you.

So which one first?

That's not even a difficult question to ask. Every time I hear this song, it just makes me think 'Parish Walk', it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I absolutely love it.

At the 2011 Walk Talk at the Manx Museum, the organisers showed a short video clip documenting the 2010 race, and this was the song that the footage was played to. Since then, I have felt that this song is synonymous with the occasion, and I have placed it as my unofficial Parish Walk anthem.

If I could get hold of the video clip, I will post it so you can hopefully see what I mean. Maybe you'll agree with me, maybe you won't. What would be great is if you have any favourites let me know and I could post these as they may be more motivational than the ones I have in mind.

Finally, I would just like to say an absolutely huge thank you to everyone who has wished me well over the last week. The comments, emails and texts I've had have been huge encouragement to me, and really reminds me of what a great community spirit the Parish Walk instills in people. For those first timers of you, it is this encouragement that really helps you on the day and makes you believe.

Next time, more music and starting to compile lists......

Friday, 18 May 2012

Whatever next?

If tomorrow was Parish Walk day, I can categorically guarantee that I would not be lining up with 1818 others on the start line.

After what started as a really good training week almost certainly ended in near disaster. Those who know me think I am probably overreacting as usual, but as I write, I have my left foot resting on an ice pack, and next to me are the crutches I was given in A&E yesterday morning.

I wrote a cryptic message at the end of my last blog about the possibility of a one off appearance from a retired Manx football referee at a charity football match on Wednesday night. Well that person was me, and after what started as a light hearted fun evening, turned sour extremely quickly. After only 10 minutes there was a lull in play, and as I stepped backwards, my foot went down into a hole I felt something pull, and it felt like I had been shot in the heel!!

Although it was painful, I didn't think much of it at first, and just thought I'd be able to run it off. How wrong could I be? As the game progressed, the pain became worse, and my mobility virtually disappeared. By full time, I couldn't bear any weight on my heel, and was really struggling to walk.

I managed to get home and put an ice pack on the damaged heel which did seem to help, but only temporarily. The pain kept me awake most of the night, and as you all know, when you're awake in the middle of the night, your mind races and you think all sorts. At one point I was convinced I had ruptured my achilles tendon and my dreams of a third consecutive Parish finish were over before they began. I was mulling over what to do, and whether to see someone about it. I thought to myself if I go to the hospital they may tell me it is a rupture and I wasn't sure I could handle being told that the last 4 months training had been in vain. If I didn't go, I couldn't be told the worst and therefore there would still be hope.

It's amazing the effect that the cold light of day has on you, and when I woke up at 6.30, I decided I was going to go to A&E and get a proper diagnosis.

How glad I am that common sense prevailed.

I struggled across the car park using my umbrella as a makeshift walking stick, and headed into A&E (a department of the hospital that I have spent far too much time in over the years, and couldn't believe I was heading back). I was the only person in the waiting room, and was therefore seen very quickly.

After a quick (but very painful) consultation, the A&E doctor advised me that there was no achilles tendon damage, and I was suffering from inflammation of the membranes that cover the achilles itself.

Apparently, there is a sac of fluid known as Bursa that sits between the membranes and allows the skin to move freely around, but this sac had probably been slightly dehydrated and the membranes weren't moving as freely as they could have.  Effectively the hyper extension of my heel had caused friction between the two membranes and instead of moving independently, one had wrenched the other causing the dragging or stretching sensation I felt before the sudden pain.

So a quick prescription for anti inflammatories and a pair of crutches for mobility later, I was on my way to work where I was greeted with raucous guffaws at my predicament. So much for sympathy.

I have to go back to the hospital next Thursday for a check up to see how the recovery is progressing, but the doctor was fairly confident that the tablets will do the trick, but he couldn't say with any conviction whether I will have completely recovered by Parish Walk day, I therefore have everything crossed as I will be absolutely gutted if I am unable to take part. I have to admit, I did a little bit of Googling last night and the general information I have found indicates that after a weeks rest I will be able to start light training again and after 2 weeks, I should be back to normal, but I will wait and see what hey say next week.

On that basis, I have missed 2 training sessions this week, and I am getting really fidgety but know that a wrong move now will more than likely spell the end of this year's attempt. I want to make sure that I am absolutely right before putting any undue pressure on my heel, so I won't be taking part in the Northern Athletics 10 mile walk on Sunday as planned, but I will be there to encourage (and heckle).

Before disaster struck, I managed to clock up around 31 miles this week (not including the 4 that I ran, jogged, walked and limped on Wednesday night) which I am pleased with, but it is amazing how much we take things for granted and it is only when something is taken away from you, you realise how much you miss it.

We have 5 weeks left til the big day, which means to me only 3 weeks of real hardcore training, followed up by 2 weeks tapering. Let this story be a lesson, and just be careful. Although this was a complete accident, please exercise care when training. The weather is terrible at the minute, so watch out for wet grids, slippy kerbs, uneven surfaces etc. This is now the business end of things and you don't want all your hard work to be for nothing. All that said however, don't dwell too much on it, just bear in mind the potential risks and manage them accordingly.

35 Sleeps........

Sunday, 13 May 2012

4 hours to go.

I've just checked the entries to date, and as it stands, we are 24 short of last year's total, so I am going to put my neck on the line and say we are going to smash the record and end up close to 1800 entrants.

A little short of the 2012 that had been bandied about earlier in the year, but nevertheless it is a tremendous total, and shows the support from the Manx public (and a few UK bods too) for such a tremendous event that in one way or another pretty much touches everybody on the Island.

I'm absolutely exhausted this afternoon, and it is nothing to do with the 18.5 miles I walked this morning in 3 1/2 hours. It's all the nervous excitement watching the climax to the Premier League season this afternoon, what a day. Coming down to the last game of the season and to be decided on goal difference, it reminds me of the 1989 title run in. I still wake up in a cold sweat sometimes remembering how Michael Thomas broke so many Kopites hearts that day, that must be how Man Utd fans are feeling now. With only 5 minutes added time remaining, Man U fans must have thought they were home and dry, but City had different ideas, and the rest as they say is history. Anyway, who cares about Man U and City, 8th is the new 1st - looks like there may be a new person in the queue at the Liverpool dole office.

Back to training. This week I wanted to step up the effort a little, and my initial aim was to get out 5 times.  The plan started well, and my alarm went off at 5.45am on Tuesday and by 5.50 I was out of the house heading for a lap of Glen Roy. 6.5 miles and just over an hour later I was home again and feeling pretty good with myself. Wednesday night was the usual Laxey night, this time up on the Baldhoon Road doing intervals on a 1.5 mile course. Myself and Simon did 4 laps with a 2 minute rest in between. Moving time was 57 minutes, and again I felt chuffed with myself as I felt really good and the my legs were still pretty fresh. Thursday night I did a short 4 mile loop from the NSC round to the business park and back. I wasn't feeling that great, and really struggled up Vicarage Road, and only started to pick up as I turned off Cooil Road and headed back to the NSC. By the time I got back to meet the kids after hockey, I felt exhausted, but was still on target for my 5 sessions in the week.

My aim was to get up early on Friday and go for another lap round Glen Roy, however I had a relapse of the stiff neck I suffered a couple of weeks ago, and I woke up at 3am in agony again, so chose to give it a miss. I'm pleased to say that it's tons better now, and I managed to get out this morning with Simon so although not quite the 5 sessions I wanted, I did do 4 and brought my total mileage for the week to 35. We had arranged to start from the NSC at 8am and head along the Parish route to Rushen. Simon parked his car by Rushen Church yesterday and walked home so we had transport to get home again. It was near perfect conditions to start with, cool, and overcast, but by the time we had climbed to Santon we were greeted by a massive headwind which remained in our face all the way to Rushen. We chose not to do the little detours at Santon and Malew, and also didn't bother with Braddan loop at the start so by the time we reached the roundabout in Rushen we had only covered just over 16 miles so I had a great idea. Let's walk to the top of Ballakillowey and then we can turn round and come back to the church. Part way up the hill it didn't seem that much of a great idea, but as I kept saying, we would be pleased we did it in the end, and we were. We made it to the picnic area, turned on our heels and headed back down the hill. By the time we reached the church, we had covered almost 18.5 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes so a really good workout. I just hope I don't get a neck relapse again.

Stand up Pinocchio

Before I sign off, I have to tell you about the Craig's Heartstrong Foundation annual charity function I went to on Friday night. What a brilliant night, and they raised over £14,000 for the charity on the night from the generous attendees who all dug really deep to bid on some fantastic auction items. Phil Thompson was the guest of honour and regaled some fantastic stories about his time as a Liverpool player and coach, before donating two of the top prizes for the auction which raised almost £6,000 between them. For those of you who don't know, the charity was set up in memory of Craig Lunt who died aged just 25 in 2005 from a previously undetected heart defect. The charity runs two heart screening weekends each year to help identify whether any of the Islands young adults suffer from anything similar to what Craig did, and give them the chance that he unfortunately didn't have. Wednesday night sees a charity football match being staged between the Corinithians winning Cowell Cup squad from 1992 and a Corinthians Select XI. Before the match, the charity will be donating a defibrillator to every football club and high school on the Island and I understand that it is their aim to place one in each sports clubhouse on the Island to include other sports such as rugby and cycling, and hopefully athletics too. For further information on a great charity, click on the link below.

If you are in the vicinity of Ballafletcher on Wednesday at around 6.30pm, then pop down and I am sure you will be treated to a feast of football. There are rumours doing the rounds also, that a certain retired football referee may be donning the whistle for one last time during the match too. I can't comment at this point, but if you get down there you may see for yourself.

Right, got to go, but remember, you have less than 4 hours to sign up and you have to be in it to win it, or at least take part. After midnight tonight it seriously will be too late so don't be disappointed and get your entry in NOW.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Sick as a Parrot!

Strangely, even before the fateful events at Wembley on Saturday afternoon, I had thought to myself that I would use this as the title to my next blog.

Although football related, it was nothing to do with the mighty Reds, although the way that that shower have performed this year, it is exactly how I have been left feeling. The only thing giving me the slightest pleasure football-wise is it really does look like Man U are going to have to perform the best come back since Lazarus to win the league. Barring any miracles from QPR next Sunday, we will see yet another team successfully purchase the Premier League trophy.

Anyway, enough football talk, lets talk about a proper sport.

In my last post, I invited people to contact me if they would like to join me on a longer walk on Saturday. I had already arranged with Simon to do a loop of Baldwin from his house quite early on Saturday, so I sat back and waited for the contacts to come in. I received 2 messages, one from James Bassett (a loyal blog follower) and Christine Kniveton who is a new recruit to Wednesday night sessions. Only snag is, Christine emailed me Friday night, and I was out for a 'few' beers round Laxey to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday. Unfortunately I didn't pick Christine's message up til later the next day due to a mad rush Saturday morning to get to Simon's in time.

Before we went out on Friday, we went to Ballakermeen High School to watch the kids perform with Kewaigue School in a musical show called 'Live 2012'. All feeder primary schools had been visited by the music and drama department from 'Balla' and they would all perform a group song. It was a really good show, and really showcased the talents from different schools, and obviously gave the kids a taster of what would be on offer if they go there in a couple of years. I have to say, since I left school back in 1992, Balla has changed significantly, to the point where certain areas were completely unrecognisable.

Anyway, the purpose of telling you all this is because we were due to go out in Laxey as soon as we got back, but I got talking at my in-laws when dropping the kids off for their sleepover, and we missed the bus from the bottom of our road into the village meaning that I drove down and left the car, aiming to get up a little earlier on Saturday to get it before heading to Simon's. I had arranged with James to meet him at 8.50 by the Vehicle Test Centre on Ballafletcher Road as Simon's is a bit difficult to explain how to get to.

I left mine at roughly 8.15 after a mad rush, and race walked full tilt into Laxey to collect the car, so by the time I got to Simon's and met up with the guys, I had already done a 1.5 mile flat out 'warm up'.

We headed off up Ballafletcher Road and in the direction of the hospital (could have done with going there on), and it wasn't long until I was aware of what effort was going to have to be put in to keep up with my contemporaries. Simon who had also been out the night before was in a much more delicate condition than myself, and surprisingly started a little slow by his standards, he is usually the one setting the pace. As we got chatting, James explained that his typical week consists of around 5 sessions, and he quickly added that he likes to do his shorter distances somewhere between 6 and 7 mph. My heart sunk t that point and i really knew I was going to be up against it to keep up with these 2. So we did a loop of Baldwin heading out along West, and returning via East. James mentioned that he had read with great interest my last blog about the hill reps, so we decided to tackle the hill up to St Luke's Church flat out. With this, I put my foot down, and I reckon I pulled out a 2 or 3 metre lead on the others, but before long, James came sailing past, closely tailed by Simon. I was flagging terribly, and then all of a sudden the gin shots that Simon had been participating in the early hours took their toll, and he slowed to a shuffle. Slightly embarrassed we emerged at the top with James waiting for us - oops. Upon emerging from East Baldwin, we took a left and headed over Sir George's Bridge and up the steep hill to the end of Ballanard Road. It was a really warm morning, and I had only brought a Lucozade Sport with me. In normal circumstances, probably not enough for a walk of the distance we did, but on a day as warm as it was, nowhere near enough, so obviously I would run out quickly. Oh no, I hardly drank a drop and after about 10 miles, it really began to show. My calves really cramped up, my legs were very heavy, and as I said then, I felt like I had loads of energy left in the tank, but my legs just didn't want to know. A prime example of what dehydration does to you. Sporadically I managed to step the pace up along to the bray hill traffic lights and down Broadway to the prom, slowing briefly along the walkway. It really hit me along Peel Road, and by the time we got to the TT Access road, I was spent. I felt really guilty slowing the others up, and it was all down to my own stupidity from not drinking enough. By the time we made it back to the test centre, Simon and James had had finally listened to me and gone off ahead at their own pace, and I was literally limping down the road in absolute agony. In total, I covered 14.5 miles in 2 hours 37 mins so was pleased with the pace, but really cross with myself for being so stupid and not drinking enough.

Let this be a lesson to you all, don't let yourself fall into the same trap as I did, as your Parish will come to an abrupt end if you do.

So why the title you may ask??

Well, as we were walking, James admitted that he is a Spurs fan and he said he is currently reading a book about the history of the club. Apparently in 1908 (I think I remember the date right) Spurs went on a close season tour of Argentina and the club was gifted a parrot from a ship's captain. The parrot took pride of place on its perch at White Hart Lane, and on the day that Arsenal were awarded a place in the old First Division in Spurs' (allegedly) rightful place in 1919, the parrot keeled over and died. And this is apparently where the phrase 'As sick as a parrot' came from.

So all in all, quite apt on a number of levels for Saturday, and too good a nugget not to share.

Some facts in numbers:

47 - Days to go til the big day
6 - Days left to actually sign up for the event
1372 - The number of entries as I write this blog
384 - The number of entries needed to match last years record
640 - The number of entries needed by closing to reach 2012
1 - The number of dehydrated idiots out walking on Saturday

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Problem solved!

A couple of days of anti-inflammatories seem to have done the trick. By Wednesday morning, the pain and stiffness in my neck had all but subsided and I was able to look around without turning my whole body, you know how, you've all done it at some stage.

Feeling good I decided to crack on with the Wednesday night session which was taking place this week at Ballaragh. Parking up at the car park by the Dhoon cafe, I was amazed by the number of people who had turned out. Word has obviously spread about these sessions and how good they actually are. As well as Steve P and Michelle Turner who had turned up to watch us go through our paces, there were 6 eager souls ready to work hard.

We set off down past the cafe onto the loop road that brings you out by the Port Cornaa turn off as a warm up the majority of us pretty much unaware of what Steve actually had in mind for us. On our return to the car park, Steve marshaled us on to the Ballaragh road, and armed us all with a different coloured piece of chalk.

The aim was to walk as fast as we possibly could up the hill for a minute, and when Steve blew his whistle you mark your position on the road with your chalk. Your minute of rest then began, but in that minute you had to get back to the start position and be ready to go again when Steve blew his whistle.

We had to do this 8 times. 

If you sit and think that it doesn't sound too tough, realistically speaking it's only 16 minutes graft, believe me it is tough, it's bloody tough especially as you keep trying to reach your first mark. I like to think that physically I coped pretty well and my recovery was good. I really would like to improve my cardio though as I was really blowing hard by the time I got to the whistle on each lap.

When I woke up this morning, my neck felt good, and so did my legs, so I think it's fair to say that the exertions from the Sara Killey are out of my system now, and hardcore training can resume in earnest. On this basis, myself and Simon have agreed to go out for a walk up to 3 hours Saturday morning, somewhere between 8 and 9 (probably closer to 9 as we are both out Friday night!). 

Steve suggested last night why not publicise the longer walks we do so if anyone who wants to join in, they can. Regardless of ability, it is a reason to get out, and if enough people turn out, there will always be someone to walk with. 

So, if anyone is keen to join us, drop me an email with your contact details to and I will send out a group email or text around 24hours before we go out so you know where and when. From experience, walking in a group is so much more enjoyable than walking alone.

Tonight I went for a sports massage with Colette at Serene Spa, based in the Living Well gym, and I am feeling good. She worked my legs, back shoulders and arms, and undid quite a few knots in my neck which probably contributed to the problem I suffered earlier in the week.

If anyone is looking to go for a sports massage ahead of the Parish (and I would definitely recommend it), then give Colette a try, she's very friendly and has thumbs of steel !

Finally, if you haven't entered, you now only have 10 days in which to do so - time is running out - FAST.