Sunday, 19 June 2011

"Learn by your mistakes"

Its been a week since the marathon walk and boy, have i been walking funny since. due to the blisters on both feet heel areas i walked basically on my tiptoes the first couple of days. it was kinda funny to watch others walk past my and occassionally glance at my strange walking : -) since then the pain subsided but i had to continue each day pinning them to let the water seep out. on thursday past my right foot seem to get worse for some reason, then i played footie on friday resulting in three quarter of the dead skin starting to come away, so afterwards i gingerlly peeled the rest of it off. today i have started back to walking normal again......and yes....during the week i made a special visit to buy proper walking socks :-)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Mourne Marathon Way Challenge 11 June 2011

A few years ago I thought I wouldn’t mind doing the mourne wall walk. This type of walk would be very challenging due to the fact that it long (22 miles) plus the fact that you are going up and down 7 mountains one after another. Anyone who has went up Donard can tell you that it’s difficult enough.

I came across the and thought I’d do it. Its basically a hell of a lot easier in that although longer in distance (26.2 mile), it would be generally walking trail paths with minor gradients throughout.

Prior the event I enquired about whether my dog McGregor could go and was advised only if on lead. I stayed the night before at the folks house in Newcastle then on the morning went to Rosstrevor to register, leave car and get bus back to start in Newcastle Donard Park.

When the bus was taking us to Newcastle the driver was very thoughtful in that he thought it would be a good idea to acclimatise us for being outside for several hours so he turned his heat full blast which felt like 30 degrees resulting in me nearly nodding off for ½ hour trip. Thankfully I woke up on arrival and decided that when everyone else was setting off starting at 8am I would delay my start and nip around and collect McGregor at my folks house.   20 minutes later we were passing through the timing mat on our own with everyone else ahead of us. After entering the Donard Forest I let McG off the lead and no sooner had I did this he did a runner to his local river spots seeking a play and fetch game with me. Little did he know that I had ignored him and had dandered off. 5 minutes later I realised he wasn’t behind me. It took me 15 minutes to eventually track the little bugger down. When he came running up to me he was frantically panting obviously he had been running around searching for me as well. Little did he know what lay ahead of him. So we set off.

Have to say that the initial signing of the course was a bit poor with multiple arrows at some junctions. I had to get the iphone mapping system and my ordinance survey map I had out to clarify and guess the initial part of course in the first mile or two. After 20 minutes of walking I had my first encounter – two dogs walking directly towards us. I feared that Big Mac would start fighting them, but strangely enough he was fine with them. I very quickly realised why, in the distance behind the dogs was there owner – my uncle Frank. You see my uncle is known for his daily long mountain walking routine and I put two and two together, McG had obviously been comfortable with them as I’m sure my dad had previously taken McG out with my uncle and his dogs before. After a five minute chat with Frank I set off again hoping that we wouldn’t be delayed any further.

After this it was fairly quiet for the next 6 miles or so heading out towards Tollymore forest and into the heart of the Mournes. In Tollymore there was a long river that McGregor loved playing fetch the stick. This worked out well as the water would cool him down for the walk ahead.

After about 6 miles we had our first bite and had a chance to take in some of the panoramic views.

The route trails consist of stoney paths, large pebble pathways and mud paths to a large extent. Occasion signposts are official mourne way signs also. Within the first 10 mile I realised that I made a mistake in sock choice wear with my boots, I was wearing cheap sport socks instead of walking boot socks.

At about half way I started to feel the difficulty setting in and decided to eat one of my flasks of either soup or beans. Little did I realise 4 hours is far too long to expect these to have kept warm so I had cold soup while I decided to give McGregor the beans which refuelled my walking buddy – I could see he was starting to feel well walked already J

The feet were sorer as I progressed although I thought that it would never get too bad. (I was wrong). From here on in I started to see more frequently others either I passed or they passed me. I also saw some crazy people -  people who were running the entire way, then I later encountered some real nutters –the ultra runners – two marathons back to back !!!

Anyhows, the latter part of the route was fairly busy. I seemed to hit the last 10k at the same time as a 10k race had begun resulting in me and mcg struggling to keep out of the torrential stream of runners running past us. Mcg didn’t know were to walk – poor mcg.

Have to say the last 3 or 4 miles was very difficult. Every step was very painful on the blisters on both my heels. Fellow competitors as they passed offered their sympathies and I tried to take my mind off it my deep breathing – I must have looked as if I was having contractions J

As I approached the final few yards I was pipped to the post by Hannah Shields (if you don’t know who she is she is the first NI women to conker Everest – I had met her before doing the Ben Nevis Walk for Ulster Cancer Foundation many years ago) Some may say that a few seconds behind her isn’t bad, however when you hear the MC guy shout out ‘congratulations to Hannah Shields –Ultra Marathon Finisher’ followed by  ‘and well done to Philip Ward  - walker’ it all puts in perspective the entrants – theres me out for a wee stroll through the Mournes…..and then there is those crazy nutters running not one but two marathons in the friggin mountains !

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

"Tastes a bit like that iron stuff to me" - my first half iron


Training going into race (May – June 2011): -

Did the marathon back in May and although I was pleased I achieved completion, I was disappointed that my time was several minutes slower than last year, prob due to lack of training and smoking occasionally.
thumbs up who likes bananas
Anyhow, although I had intentions of maybe waiting til August or September this year to do a half ironman, I came across the ‘credit crunch half iron’ in Dungannon run by Trilimits in June, right at the start of the triathlon season. Recently I have been doing less swimming and less running but thankfully more cycling. These last couple of months I have on average started cycling once or twice to work and back (14 mile – Belfast – Bangor) which I have to say I have been loving to bits. Also I have tried at least once every two weeks to do a 2 hour cycle at weekends.
The beautiful backroads towards saintfield on a sunny 'cycling Sunday'

Post Race Report

Got up in the morn and tried to knock back the usual stuff cereal, peanut butter and jam sandwich and banana , not easy eating all this grub first thing when you wake. Decided also on a coffee to due 1 hr drive to event, although had worries re effects on tummy, but as it turned out I was ok. I had a couple of days before got a new bike rack which was pre fixed to car so in a jiffy I headed off for the event. 1 hr later thanks to Mrs Satnav lady I arrived in good time at Lough Erskagh in Dungannon.

The atmosphere was good and thankfully not too many people around. You could see the folks there were seasoned triathletes calm as ever – the atmosphere even seemed to affect the Lough which didn’t even have a ripple on it; so I stacked the bike and got the registration kit. The organisers were very friendly and helpful.


The water was very calm and bearing in mind there were only 35 of us it went pretty hastle free. Ok you do get the odd banging together, but that is to be expected in these events and doesn’t really worry me.
thats me in the red :-)
As a slower swimmer I was at the back following the others. Only near the end did I remember the trick of ‘drafting’ to save about 20% energy theory so I hopped on the back of some woman and from here on in it was plain sailing. Unfortunately it was over pretty quick and as I and others thought, we think we didn’t do the full swim circuit, probably two thirds of it only : - (
The transition to cycle was grand, I had decided on cycle shorts, then running shorts in transition area, with merely the good old speedos to wear underneath. After the changeover I was off.
spot the eejit with the helmet back to front :-)
No sooner was I started when I heard the official ask the embarrassing question ‘here mate is your helmet on the right way?’, so after a quick stop and 180 degress of helmet I was on the off again. You will never guess what happened next…………i did a terrible thing……….i cycled through a funeral procession, after being asked to wait. L  ok, now its not as bad as it may seems; I did initially wait when I was asked, but the coffin and people had not came out of church and another guy passed me and said he wasn’t going to stop, so…… I went like a whippet (I wish). The cycle was ok with little to report, the gradient was minimal with occasional hellos from fellow competitors. Towards the end have to admit was tired and the wind picked up (I hate wind – give me the rain any day!), fed up cycling and sick of the gels and looking forward with some trepidation to the run and hopeful finish.


The run was four laps of the Lough, which in a way was a good thing as you had a good idea at all times how far you had gone and the route would b always familiar to you, both the easy and harder bits. A small part of the run had a hill, a bit steep but not too lengthy thankfully. In my first lap I was hit with my first major setback, I got a cramp in my leg. Due to severity I had to stop completely for a few minutes and stretch. Thankfully it eased off again so off I went. I was pretty pleased that although exhausted I kept running the rest of the 13 miles non stop to finish with a smile J

Have to admit, I was as happy almost as much as achieving my first marathon a few years back. A great day and all in all very pleased I was able to finish, despite being 4th last J

Last but not least I came across Austin – a fellow blogger ( that inspired me to start blogging and is also on the road to iron, although Austin a fair bit ahead of me, it was good to have a quick post race chat together.

Plus, i got a cool medal :-)