|19th Aug||Rest Day|
|20th Aug||Rest Day|
|21st Aug||Rest Day|
|22nd Aug||Rest Day|
|23rd Aug||Rest Day|
|24th Aug||Rest Day|
|25th Aug||Rest Day|
|TOTAL||1010.67||1626.48||8 days 00:17:56||25,006||24,707||112,305|
After 6 solid weeks training, concluding with a Marathon in the final week, I took the opportunity to have a complete week off while I am working in Dubai.
My wife joined me out here for the first week, so while I was at work she was busy checking out the shopping malls.
The Dubai mall is the largest in the world, by square foot, at a pretty impressive 12.1 million square foot consisting of around 1,200 shops.
I'm no football fan so I just Googled how big a football pitch is and was surprised to learn there is no official size, with FIFA saying the optimal size is 110-120 yards long by 70-80 yards wide, or 69,000 to 86,000 square foot.
If we use an average of 80,000 square foot you could fit 151 football pitches inside the Dubai Mall, so it's no wonder that, according to my phone, we covered 9 miles during our first trip there!
The choice of places to eat, and the quality of the food, is just insane so we went back there again on Monday after I finished work, and this time my phone recorded just under 6 miles, so despite having a week off training I still got some good miles in!
It must be at least a 1 mile walk along air conditioned corridors from the metro (train) stop to the mall itself. As with most things in Dubai even the Metro is a record holder, holding the record for the longest fully automated metro network at 47 miles!
There isn't even a driver or conductor on board 'just in case'. Every journey is 100% computer controlled.
My biggest challenge last week was trying not to eat and drink too much and I can quite safely (happily?) say I failed miserably.
In exactly 4 weeks time the US Centurion event will have just finished so the last thing I need to do now is ruin 8 months of good training by piling on the pounds.
In fact being here in Dubai is a perfect opportunity to show a picture of my first visit to Dubai in 2008 when I was almost 5 stone heavier than I am now, along with a picture from today.
It was during this first work trip, which was for 9 months, that I started going to the hotel gym and started walking and jogging on a treadmill for the first time.
2008 weighing in at just under 17 stone (the photo doesn't really do it justice):
And today... not sure on the weight... but I was just over 12 when I left the IOM a week ago!
I was actually in the hotel for 3 months before I finally plucked up the courage to go to the gym wearing an old pair of trainers, some heavy 'jog' pants (which I had bought for lounging around the apartment) and a heavy cotton T-Shirt.
I felt great after my first session, which only lasted about 20 minutes, and over the next few weeks I slowly built up fitness and was amazed at how quickly I was improving.
I started to follow a 'couch to 5k' walk/run plan that I found on the internet (they weren't as popular as they are now) and about 2 months later I completed my first 5k run/walk on a treadmill in just over 40 minutes if I remember rightly.
About 3 months later I completed my first 10k run/walk in about 80 minutes.
I returned to the Isle of Man in July 2009 determined to keep up the excercise but I found it difficult running outdoors after spending the last 6 months on a treadmill.
It wasn't just the transition from treadmill to road that was difficult but I lost a lot of confidence too - what if someone I knew saw me!
Even in Dubai, where I knew nobody would see me in the gym, I still hadn't plucked up the courage to bare my pasty white legs to the other innocent gym goers so I hadn't yet moved away from jog pants to shorts. I had ditched the cotton T-Shirt though.
I started with some flat 5k jogs along Douglas promenade wearing jog pants and, just in case anyone saw me, a hoody over my T-Shirt, with the hood up at all times so in my head I looked like Rocky Balboa.
This didn't last long as it was far too hot so gradually I stopped jogging and the weight started to go back on again.
It was about 9 months later that I got the bug again on the day of the 2010 Parish Walk.
A friend of ours, Anne, was walking to Peel and she often said I should have a go but I have to admit I was 'one of those people' who thought walking was easy so what's the point.
It was on Parish Walk day that I decided to take our dog out for a longer than usual walk which took me from Onchan up around Little Mill and the Clypse and Kerrowdhoo reservoirs.
I was gone for about 2.5 hours and when I got back I was absolutely knackered so I went online to figure out how far I had walked. It turned out to be just under 8 miles, so not even 4mph average (I blamed the dog for stopping to sniff everything).
With the Parish Walk in full swing I decided to checkout the website and when I saw the various cut off times I realised I would barely have made the Santon cutoff.
Hmm, okay, maybe this isn't as easy as I thought.
I then checked out the End to End website and when I realised I would not have made the time to progress beyond Peel at 22 miles I started to get interested. Not only would I have to walk quicker than my long dog walk but I would have to maintain it for over 5 hours to get through the first checkpoint, and up to 10 hours to qualify as a finisher at 39.5 miles.
That was it. The challenge was on. My first Garmin GPS watch was purchased and the training began. I had about 10 weeks.
One of the first purchases after the watch was a pair of lycra 'anti chafe' shorts. I had been lucky to avoid this during my 5/10k jogs 9 months earlier but as the training miles increased I wasn't so lucky.
I still wasn't brave enough to bare my legs and frighten the public but I did upgrade from jog pants to some proper walking trousers.
I remember trying as hard as I could to break the 12 minute mile / 5mph barrier and it was about 5 weeks into my training that I eventually did it, just, along Marine Drive. I had to stop and text my wife, Maeve, to give her the exciting news!
After 10 weeks training I completed the End to End in 08:37:52, averaging 4.544 mph.
I learnt a lot from that, the three main things being:
1) Don't wear trousers - they can chafe the knees;
2) Don't wear too many clothes at the start. It may be cool, but you will warm up pretty quickly;
3) Don't carry a water bottle all day, not even one with a hand grip. Get a decent water belt.
I had already booked the Monday off work to recover but had to take the Tuesday too as I still couldn't walk properly.
I haven't looked back since. I no longer cared what people thought. Shorts were purchased and I was out on the road. Parish Walk 2011 was only 8 months away.....
Nearly 6 years later I have 5 Parish Walk finishes, 4 End to End Finishes, UK Centurion c.1123, 2014 UK 24 Hour Champion (technically still reigning champion as the 24 hour event was not held in the UK in 2015 or 2016), 2016 Continental 50 mile winner, numerous 50k, Marathon, Half Marathon, 20k, 10k, and 5k finishes and over 1000 miles walked in 33 weeks.
All this from a guy who took 3 months to get enough confidence to go to a hotel gym (3,500 miles from home) and who wouldn't wear shorts in public for another 18 months.......
If I can do it, anyone can do it.
And don't forget, the second part of my challenge is to try and raise £2,016 for Finley's Tracks and all donations are welcome here. A big thank you to everyone who has already sponsored me online or offline, and to those who have pledged to donate later.