Saturday, 15 June 2013

The end is nigh!

Good afternoon! It's been nearly two weeks since my last post, so bear that in mind when looking at the miles I've clocked:

Distance (miles)
Time (hh:mm)
Energy (kcals) 
Since last post (4 Jun 2013)
Since records began (27 Dec 2012)

I've cut right back on my distances: mostly just a mile or two to/from work. The temperatures have picked up a bit, so an equivalent distance at an equivalent pace does leave me feeling more drained than it did during the cooler spring days.

Looking at the long-range weather forecasts for the Isle of Man next weekend I don't think heat will be a problem; in fact, it looks fairly promising at the moment:

Long-range forecast for the Isle of Man next weekend (from
If the forecast holds true then I'd settle for that: fairly windy, but dry and not too hot or cold. Fingers crossed...

The flurry of activity on the Parish Walk Facebook page has alerted me to a lot of good new information posted on the website. It's weird to see our names up there in the programme for the first time: I've got race number 494 and Mrs W has the rather more memorable 999.

At this stage I'm doing final equipment checks and planning for the day, including a bulk order of Jelly Babies: my food of choice should I continue after the food stations run out. I worked out (using the calculator here) that I'm likely to burn around 9500 kcals over full race distance: that is equivalent (based on info here) to nearly 3kgs of Jelly Babies!

As a first timer I'm not sure how far I'll get: Peel would be my primary goal, but if I'm feeling fine at that point I'll certainly press on, and I'm prepared with everything I'd need to finish. A quick analysis of Murray's stats on entrants this year with prior finishes would suggest that debut finishes are fairly rare:
  • 22% finished on their debut
  • 56% finished within two years of their debut
In terms of my training I think I've put in a decent number of miles in preparation, although my general fitness is still a little lower than I'd hoped and my weight a little higher: evidently I started carb loading about six months too soon for the race! :)

Last questions

As the big day approaches I'm left with a few niggling doubts regarding my race strategy. I'd be interested in your views.

  1. To tape or not to tape? I get a sense that opinions are pretty divided on this, but what are your experiences of taping your feet from the start to prevent blisters? My inclination is not to tape them, as my feet have hardened through training and I haven't suffered from blisters lately. However, I'm concerned that I'm potentially going to be putting much more miles into my feet this time to the extent that blisters may be inevitable without drastic countermeasures.
  2. Positioning at the start? When I was over for the Parish in 2011 supporting my dad and brother they started right near the back of the field and seemed to put quite a bit of energy in the early miles weaving their way up. If you're planning to continue beyond Peel is it worth lining up early behind the seeds to get out ahead of the pack? It goes without saying that it would be important not to be driven to an unsustainable pace in any case.

Thanks for reading! I'm hoping to make one or two posts when I'm back on the Island before race day.


  1. Hi Dave, looking forward to seeing you and Mrs W next week!!

    Blisters. Bottom line is you will get them, it's more how you deal with them when they arrive rather than try not to get them and let it bother you. I always carry Compeed plasters with me. Other versions are available, but I have found over the years that there are no substitutes for the originals. As soon as you feel the burn, stop, dry your feet, and apply a Compeed. Just bear in mind that the likelihood is that the plasters will make a mess of the inside of your socks after a while and constant pounding, but rather your socks than your feet. People have varying opinions on what to do with formed blisters. I generally pop and drain any i get to stop them spreading, but I wouln't like to be responsible for you ending up in Nobles with an infection ;o).

    Positioning - Anywhere will do unless you are in contention or have a firm plan in mind. Given that the Ballahutchin is now closed for walkers on race day, there is far more passing opportunity. If it's a couple of miles to Union Mills, and you walk 2 minutes a mile slower for those two, it's an enforced slow start which means you will be nicely warmed up by the time you put your foot down to chase down Jock et al.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Hi Dave, I'm with Ed on all of the above. I tend not to worry too much about the blisters and walk through them but it IS best to stop and treat them as they occur. A couple of years ago I wrapped my heels in Duck tape. It did work in keeping the blisters down but I still got them and it was something I'd been training with since Feb that year so I was well used to it. I wouldn't recommend starting it now.

    As for positioning, a few years ago I walked down the access road with a fireman (can't remember his name). Lots of people were pushing and shoving past, weaving from side to side etc. He told me to ignore them. They will be wasting lots of energy getting a few meters further down the road and will probably be stopping in Peel in any case. For those of us looking to finish but who aren't racing with the big boys, Peel is the start line. You want to get to the start line with as much energy in reserve as possible. Walk gently, take it really easy on the hills, talk to as many people as possible, eat, drink and, when you reach Peel, then you can start worrying about things like pace and position. Until then, it is all about saving energy and saving the legs.

    It was a great piece of advice. I used it to great effect two years ago and ignored it to my own peril last year. I intend following it to the letter again this year.

  3. One year your brother had blisters on his blisters, apparently they were a sight to behold!

  4. Thanks for the sound advice.

    I'll have plenty of Compeeds at hand and I'd rather pop and drain any blisters that do form than walk on them: as I experienced durng training, walking on blisters can lead to other problems. I'll take the risk of infection as a trade-off. (And yes, my brother's feet were a sight to behold in the year that he finished!)

    It seems like I'm being over-anxious on the question of positioning at the start. I'll take it steady.