With 20 days to go I am pleased to say that I am officially back in training - albeit very gently. It is nowhere near the finished article, but tonight my foot feels better than it has done at any point since inadvertently putting into a hole at Ballafletcher the other week.
I had an appointment with John Barton on Thursday as I was still experiencing pain when walking, and my heel was very tender to the touch. After a quick examination, he told me that the slowdown in recovery I was experiencing was due to the damaged heel fibres getting tangled, not moving freely and staying inflamed thus causing discomfort. He dived straight in with thumbs of steel and started to work the damaged fibres and within minutes the immediate pain had subsided. After working manually on it for 20 minutes, he pulled out a magic laser machine, and zapped a couple of areas for about another 10 minutes.
After he had finished he told me that it was unlikely that I would need to see him again for further treatment as the injury should now settle down within a few days. It has improved significantly, is still a little tender to the touch, but the improvement in mobility is significant. He suggested some stretching exercises, and to continue with using the bio-lamp that Michael George has very kindly lent me.....thanks Michael, it's working well, hope you don't mind if I hang on to it for a bit longer.
I therefore prolonged my absence from training for a bit longer, however, I decided that today was the day to get back on the horse. The advice I had been given was to start off steady on the flat, so I decided to take myself off to Baldhoon Road which is a slight incline but relatively flat for a good stretch. This is where we have trained for a good proportion of the time on Wednesday nights over the past few months, so I parked up and headed off towards Glen Roy at a steady pace. My head was telling me to take it steady, but my legs were so desperately wanting to go quicker. I would love to tell you the pace I was going, but because it has been a few weeks I forgot some of the basic essentials required for a training session, but most notably the Magic Watch. Anyway, back to the walking......I was taking it steady as the road started to climb and I could begin to feel a bit of a strain in my heel so I really backed off the pace as I didn't want to cause any more damage. I got to a point where I thought that I had pushed it far and hard enough and turned back towards the car a little downbeat. As I headed back, the road does slope downwards gradually and it was interesting how the strain eased almost immediately. By the time I got back to the car it felt good enough to do another loop, so I headed off towards Glen Roy once again. Roughly at the same place, the heel started to tug slightly so again I backed off the pace which did help. At the same turn point, I headed back to the car and it felt better again. I decided to go for one final loop and it felt good on both the outward and return leg, but decided when I got back to the car that enough was enough. I had walked for 17 minutes and measured the distance of a single loop in the car afterwards which worked out at 0.5 miles. So 17 mins for 1.5 miles I am extremely pleased with (I just hope Dave Walker and John Barton aren't reading this as it was probably far quicker than I should have gone), but as I write, apart from a little stiffness, the foot feels good, and is without doubt no worse that before walking.
As I mentioned before, it is by far nowhere near the finished article, and I am not ready for the Parish just yet, but on the strength of the improvement over the past 96 hours I look forward to lining up with you guys in 20 days time.
So the preparation resumes in earnest. I have started to stockpile things, and tomorrow I take delivery of my repaired laptop. For those long term followers, you may remember a previous blog where I mentioned that my laptop was broken and since then I have been using Caroline's MacBook. Although I have got used to using it, and it is a far better machine than my own, you (well I) can't do spreadsheets on it, and this is what I use to do a lot of my own analysis and targeting for the day.
Saved on my hard drive is an excel file which documents parish distances, official cut off times, my actual split times for the 2010 walk, and eta's at each point for a 20 hour and a 21 hour finish. I now need to adapt this for this year to include last year's actual times and eta's for my objectives.
I think I need to be practical however, and my objective which seemed extremely achievable 3 weeks ago may not be to realistic as I am going to have to take it quite easy to ensure that I protect my foot as much as possible.
My advice to anyone looking to finish for a first time is to go with a plan. It is very cliched but, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. For the early Parishes, the whole event and carnival atmosphere will carry you along but once you leave Rushen after arriving at 4 different churches within a 2 hour timeframe, it will feel very peculiar that you may go best part of 3 hours til you reach the next. After Peel it may take you nearly 2 hours to get to the next. Kirk Michael, Ballaugh and Jurby are quite close together, but then you are getting to the business end of the day, the number of onlookers reduce significantly, darkness and tiredness is starting to creep in. It is at this point when your mind can (and oh yes it most certainly will) play tricks on you but if you have something constant to refer to you, you'll know exactly where you are up to, what kind of time you are on target for and whether you need to speed up or can afford to slow down.
Once I have my own laptop back up and running, I'll show you a mock up of last year's card to give you an idea.
To finish off, and to get back to a theme I have gone with over the last few blogs is motivational music. Some of my favourite music to listen to whilst walking is by Faithless, and as I have mentioned previously, some songs inspire and motivate me because of words and some purely because of the uplifting nature and beat. This one definitely falls into the latter categorically, and if you can get your steps in line with beat, it really drives you along..............
I've just realised that I haven't even mentioned anything about the Olympic Torch or Saturday's Superbike or Sidecar races yet, so I will blog early next week with my take on these things and a training/injury update.