Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A River Runs Through It

Good afternoon (now that's a twist!). First, 'Scores on the Doors':

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals)
Since last post (1 May 2013)
Since records began (27 Dec 2012)

As noted last time, my workday walks have been few and far between again. The bulk of my thirty miles this week comprises two walks: 10 miles on Saturday and 20 miles today.

Like 1 May, 8 May is also a public holiday in the Czech Republic. Unlike the Isle of Man, most of the public holidays here are on fixed dates; the exception is Easter (we get the Monday but not the Friday). The big downside of fixed dates is that you get nowt if they fall on a weekend: this year we lose 3 out of 12 public holidays, but 2011 was a particularly lean year. The bad news for Mrs W is that she works for a company that operates a schedule which includes public holidays, and she was 'it' for today.

There's something strange good in your neighbourhood

I'd certainly echo Paul Callow's observation in his latest post that you see a lot when walking that you miss when driving through. I've also found that I've seen a lot more of the city and its surroundings than I had in the previous six years because I'm covering ground that I wouldn't normally cover in my day-to-day activities. It's been the biggest unanticipated positive side effect of training for the Parish Walk.

On Saturday a random turn down an otherwise unremarkable side street led to a beautiful house and botanical gardens belonging to a horticultural college. For some inexplicable reason I didn't think to take any pictures, but you can get an idea from their photo gallery here. It's apparently open free to the public on weekdays, so I'll have to head over and have a wander in my lunch break one day.

'Epic Walk' Mark II

Today, I followed the Vltava river downstream past the zoo and out of the city to the north. Like my previous long excursion out of the city my route was mostly off the roads and on well-maintained tarmac cycle paths. Here's a photo I snapped at one of the many bends in the river. It was like a mill pond, so I got nice clear reflections in the water.

Cycle path by the Vltava river, a few miles north of Prague
About 25% of my route was on narrower gravel or dirt trails, which slowed my pace a little... especially when it got very narrow and I was stepping off the track every few minutes to let cyclists through. My courtesy backfired at one point, as I stepped into one of the many patch of stinging nettles lining the route: a few minutes of discomfort but no lasting damage :)

I had hoped to get to the town of Mělník, which would have seen me push through the 30 mile barrier, but instead I called it a day and took the train back from the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou, as the storm clouds were building and I didn't fancy the dampening of my kit and my spirits that would ensue if the heavens opened. My feet held up well; I had learned the lesson from my last longer walk and came  prepared with blister pads this time, one of which I applied to my right heel at a refreshment stop about half way, as it was feeling a little bit tender. Prevention is definitely better than cure!

The only minor crisis today was the knackering of my iPod: about half an hour in the earphones started flickering from one ear to the other before cutting out entirely and no amount of wiggling the cable could fix it.  I found that podcasts really helped to pass the time on my last longer walk, and rather missed them this time around. I'll see if I can find some Apple branded (read 'horrendously overpriced') over-ear headphones that fit a bit better in the headphone jack than the generic ones I purchased recently. I'd certainly advise anyone against using in-ear headphones on the Parish Walk, as you could get penalised or disqualified if you're not able to hear what's going on around you.

In the absence of podcasts, I kept myself amused by playing 'Vltava' from Smetana's 'Má vlast' ('My Country') in my head. It contains a very familiar tune that's closely associated with the river and with Prague itself: they play it on all Czech Airlines flights arriving into the city. If you've only got a few minutes play from 8m25s to 9m15s: it's the bit that represents the triumphant arrival of the river into Prague after its journey through the Bohemian countryside. I think I must be 'going native': I get a bit of a lump in my throat at that part. Another one for my Parish Walk playlist...

And finally...

... if you've been holding off until now don't forget that Parish Walk entries close this Sunday (12 May). I found the entry process to be very quick but, as tempting as it might be to try for the auspicious position of 'Last Entrant', don't leave it until the very last minute in case of technical difficulties.

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

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