Friday, 9 January 2015

Dave and Richard overtake

Training finally got underway yesterday morning - a fifteen mile loop, beginning from my house off Jurby Road, taking the A10 up to Bride church, then following the course as far as Ramsey. It felt like revisiting the scene of a crime.

Dave Walker appeared first - I don't remember much about him that day, he came and went. Then it was my friend Andy Boardman. I know him from the Onchan Silver Band - his  very talented daughter plays cornet in the junior band, and we talk about walking all the time. He appeared as he always does, riding a push bike about two thirds of the way through a race - we once chatted through the sunset between Andreas and Lezayre, and another time on the home straight past Port Erin in the End to End. 'You're going like a steam-train' he once said to me. And, 'you're doing so well', he said another time. But not now. He looks concerned.
'Dave Walker's just overtaken me,' I tell him, breaking the ice.
'I hate to tell you,' he says, ' but there's another guy right behind you, looks so fresh it's like he's just sprang up out of bed'. I look over my shoulder.

At the time I didn't know Richard Wild. And yes, he looked very fresh and healthy indeed.

I'm suddenly very conscious of how much I've slowed down. It's like the engine that powered me through the last two walks has turned into porridge. 'Hiya,' I say to Richard, 'what's your name?'
We get talking. 'I've never done it before', he tells me. 'I've no idea if I'm pacing myself correctly!'
I look at my watch. 'Yeah, amazing,' I answer, 'if you carry on like this, you'll be done in under sixteen hours!'

We're approaching St Jude's, tall trees on either side of the road providing shade that only seems to accentuate the long days heat. I decide that it's time to get my act together and ramp the speed up again. Richard has caught me up, but now I'll use him as a pacesetter - and if he's on for a sixteen hour finish then so am I. Still a few minutes ahead of my best time - the safety margin is narrowing, but the target is still on. The sun is retreating, the support team is changing, and the walk is nearly two thirds complete. Everything is fine. Time to focus -

Here in 2015 the training plan has taken shape. Preparations will be a collaborative effort between me and my wife Emma, otherwise known as arguably the most hardworking support driver in Parish Walk history. Between caring for our beautiful baby daughter Rosa Sophia, making bread at Noa Bakehouse and musicing at The Onchan Silver Band, we have decided to sacrifice a full half of our one day a week together to The Walk.

Thursday mornings. And the priority will be endurance. I intend to put in at least twenty miles to begin with, increasing the distance to thirty-five from mid-february. In addition I have requested the middle weekend of every month off work, which time will be used to attempt much longer walks, focusing on the north where I now live. And every morning and afternoon, of every day of the week, I want to find time for squat-thrust burpees and plank.

Twenty-two Thursdays, twenty-two middle-distance walks - five weekends off work, five long-distance walks. But the plan is one thing and the execution of the plan is another. A couple of corners down the road and Richard Wild was a blur on the horizon.

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