I had arranged with Lou, my sister to walk this weekend with her, Julian and 2 of my nieces. We agreed on 2 hours as it felt like the next logical step after an hour the other night. We started from their house in Birch Hill and headed towards Johnny Watterson's Lane. The plan was to head out towards Crosby on the back road via Strang and back which I anticipated would be around 10 miles and therefore 2 hours walking at a decent pace.
It was a cracking morning so I ditched my jacket and just went out in a t-shirt. We started off at a steady pace, and my foot felt good with not even the slightest twinge. I'd warmed it up properly before heading out which I think the lack of a few weeks ago probably contributed to the injury - that and borrowed footwear. Speaking of footwear, those regular followers will remember me toying with which trainers to wear for the big day. I have 2 pairs of Asics; one pair of Gel Nimbus 12's and a pair of Gel 1160's the latter becoming my preferred option. The Nimbus' were the ones that gave me the blister in the Sara Killey so they were relegated to second choice, however they have a more cushioned heel and therefore I am likely to go with these ones after all - I will just have to compeed the area that rubs for a bit of added protection.
My biggest concern with my heel is hills, both up and down, and the first real test was the drop down from the end of Ballanard Road to the dip and the hill that takes you to the junction for East Baldwin. The downhill was fine, and I decided to step it up a gear going up the hill to test the foot out. First tick in the box as there was no reaction. We continued on towards Strang and we soon were greeted by a familiar face running the other way - Rich Gerrard out for a run looking in fine form, we exchanged pleasantries and carried on our separate ways. The foot continued to feel good, and we carried on at a steady pace. The roads were quite busy still and there were lots of campers packing up as we went plast Glenlough. It was surprising though, I did expect to see a few more walkers out, but there weren't a great deal. Everyone is obviously well into their tapering phase. We headed up Strang Road, and I had to back off the pace a little as I felt a twinge in my heel but as soon as I got back on to the flat I could step it up again, no problems felt. We had all separated at certain points for comfort breaks etc, but the 5 of us headed past the test centre together. As we started the climb up Johnny Wattersons, Julian came motoring past, I probably should have let him go, but the competitive side of me showed itself and I chased him up the hill at pretty much full pace. Probably not a good idea seeing as though I had to slow down up Strang Road, but I felt no adverse reaction in my heel and pushed on. By the time we reached the roundabout I was blowing quite heavily, but was glad that I could turn up the pace if I needed to without any issues. We made it back to Lou's in just about 2hrs 35mins and had covered just under 12 miles.
On the whole, I am absolutely delighted to get that many miles, and that time on my feet under my belt now - chances are I won't put in another training effort like that before the big day now, and will generally work on shorter, faster stuff to try and recover some of the aerobic fitness I have clearly lost, but the miles are in my legs already.
I have another appointment at the Crosby Injury Clinic on Tuesday for more treatment on my heel to see if the tenderness can be relieved any more, but my confidence of being in A1 condition by 8am on the 23rd is improving daily.
So relatively injury free, although we did have a couple of mishaps today, as we turned past the Strang Stores to head out towards Crosby, I misjudged the corner, and nearly took myself out on the road name sign around the gentleman's region that would definitely have scuppered my attempt as it is likely I would be in hospital having something sticthed back on. Not so lucky was my niece Meggie who completely out of the blue whacked her left hand on a stone wall. I didn't know what had happened at first as she was bent double in agony. This was a bad start for her as she had also forgotten to take an allergy tablet before she came out, and she struggled with itchiness all the way round. Better today than the 23rd though Meg !!
Before I go, I had another look at a couple of long term weather forecasts before, and in typical fashion,not only do they both contradict each other, but they have completely changed from what I read the other day.
This one is from the website http://www.netweather.tv/
The other one I read forecasts no rain so I think you need to make your own mind up, plus not worry yet as there's still plenty of time for it to change.
One very last thing, I just want to say good luck to my niece Hattie who was walking with us today, she is venturing off to Kenya tomorrow to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and returns to the Island on Parish Walk day. Unfortunately too late for her to take part, but no doubt she will be out and about cheering everyone on later on.