Sunday, 28 February 2010

Miles 33.84; Units 27

Exercise-wise, a back end loaded week. I had to miss three training days through pressure of work. Sometimes that's not such a bad thing, as it gives you a chance to recover. All too often, we runners can run ourselves into the ground, if we are not careful. However, after two days you start to feel the lack of exercise, and imagine that you are ballooning up in weight. This of course is not true, though that is little comfort. This may also be a personal thing, however I usually find that when I take more than one day off, a number of niggles emerge - in this case a touch of plantar fasciitis (for you non-runners, a pain like a drawing pin being lodged in your heel - see the gloriously Heath-Robinson picture of the necessary stretching to help the recovery). Maybe the body is just seizing the day and bringing the bad stuff out that it has kept under check whilst you are exercising - clearly 3 days is enough for it to think "oh good, we seem to have stopped all this mad running lark, so let's start to rebuild ourselves". In any case, it is a huge disincentive to sofa-time, and is just the kind of thing that happens during tapering and plays badly with your mind...

A couple of wines this week. The WOTW is definitely a Volnay Vieilles Vignes 2005, Nicolas Potel. Gorgeously silky fruit, cherry-ripe, good depth, and nice crunchy tannins. Really a beautiful bottle for a mere 'villages' wine. Just about right, one to drink up in the next few years. Went wonderfully well with lamb and pomegranates on Saturday night. The 'honourable mention' goes to a bottle of Manzanilla Pasada by Pastrani, which has been just perfect for a little glass every now and again during the week. How I love that salty tang, that freshness with bite..oh, i you don;t already drink dry sherry you are missing out - grab a Tio Pepe or a La Gitana immediately and chill it, then drink with almonds. Heaven!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Miles 35.1; Units 29

A late post, so my apologies.

A game of two halves, this week. It is perhaps the lot of the runner to experience highs and lows, most of which are caused by over enthusiasm and failing to listen to your body (or the sound advice of others). The start of the week was mostly about recovering from the Bramley 20 - in theory it is 1 day a mile for full recovery. There is a lot to be said for that - and yet marathon training must go on. I headed back out on Tuesday for an easy 25 mins, and a steady 50 on Thursday. Saturday then went very well with a 12-miler at a great pace - all feeling fine - and then on Sunday the most ragged, disjointed run in a long time, a sad, halting 14 miles. So, maybe that thing about 1 day per mile was not totally wrong, eh?

I've also come across a splendid podcast called Marathon Talk, which I can highly recommend. One of the two guys who make it is Liz Yelling's husband, Martin Yelling, and the other, Tom Williams, is a relatively recent running convert who is well under 3 hrs for the marathon. They are a bit chatty-blokey, which is actually quite appealing, and they know their stuff. Well worth an hour on your ipod for those long runs.

Wine of the week this week is a little pleasure - especially as it was a gift from a colleague at work, a small bottle of Peller Estates Riesling Icewine 2007, from Niagara in Canada. It was a lovely golden colour, and had a delightful nose of peaches, apricots and that zing you get with Riesling. On the palate it is sweet, intense and honeyed, with double-rich
marmalade fruit. Again, as it is Riesling, there is a great acidity to this wine that stops it being cloying - and as always with these wines, you are amazed that, when drunk with a sweet pudding (in this case a lovely treacle pudding yum yum) it tastes almost dry. Now that's balance! And just a quick thought for how this is made - crushing frozen grapes picked in the dead of night in January (provided you can keep the birds off the grapes!) when the fruit is shrivelled and the juice so concentrated. As you can imagine, the risk of production means that the quantities are tiny and the price high - but to be honest, at around £30 for a half, it really isn't that pricey.

It reminded me of a visit to the vineyards of Bernkastler Doctor some years ago, where we hiked up to the top of the vineyard on a slope that felt like a 1 in 1. With glass in hand, we reflected on the challenges here, when that call comes on a freezing January night "The grapes are ready", and how you would pick these grapes on frozen, death-defying slopes..crikey! Well worth the price, I should say.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Miles: 27.5; Units 23

A big race week, leading up to the Bramley 20 at the weekend (yes, the picture is an apple called the Bramley 20! You know what a race looks like). I have to say that work has been one of the toughest weeks in my last 15 years at B&Q, so it was a blessing that I only had two easy runs to fit in - I just don't think I could have come home and banged off a tough interval session this week. The big race on Sunday was the two 10-mile laps of Bramley, near Basingstoke - a perfect marathon prep. race. My goal was to crack 2:25, which I nearly did, coming in at 2:25:46. The last 3 miles just nipped the 46 seconds out of me. The weather was hardly promising, with sleet as I drove up the M3, though for the race itself, the rain stayed off, though there were some biting winds in the second lap (not from me I hasten to add!). All in all a successful race, given that the last time I ran that distance was during the London Marathon in April 2009 - clearly 6.2 more to go on that day! I also knocked just under 2 minutes off last year's Bramley time.

Wine of the week - well, with a race on Valentine's day, when I returned (and after a small kip on the sofa) it had to be champagne - Lanson Brut, to be precise - a complimentary bottle from Volkswagen for mucking up Janet's new car, as it happens. Apple-crisp (no malolactic here, as we know) and very refreshing, though with limited depth of flavour. I wouldn't say Lanson was a first rank Grand Marque champagne, however I am always delighted to see it in preference to a number of others. Fizz, Fizz, Fizz.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Miles: 23.2, Units 22 (hurrah!)

Trainingwise, not a perfect week. I didn't run my intended Frenches session on Wednesday, and opted instead for Cemetery Hill. I was planning for about 30 mins of effort, but at about 25 minutes I came across a cat that had been struck by a car, and was (not to beat about the bush) dying in front of me. Another car stopped and we got it ready to go to the vets, but it had clearly suffered too much. Not a great omen, and pretty horrible. I blew out my Friday run with a bit of a sore throat and a general feeling of lethargy- and so, I aimed on Saturday for a strong 10 miler with the same again on Sunday, to prepare for the 20 mile race on the following week - however, I had to work on Sunday from 7am to 5 and quite frankly a steady 40 mins was all I could muster up. All round a sorry picture - summed up nicely in this pic of me from the Clarendon marathon in 2007

Winewise also not a very exciting week. The most enjoyable drop was a bit of an oddity - Bricco Rosso Suagna Langhe Rosso 2004. A lovely, ripe, tart wine, from the Dolcetto grape (literally - little sweet one). Plummy fruit, medium-bodied, and quite a charmer. A sit-up-and-beg wine, if you will. Needed food to cut the acidity. I prefer Dolcetto to Nebbiolo, to be honest (I can hear you wine buffs gasp! but yes it is true) and I would choose a Sangiovese over the two any day. Still, nice to try the stuff that fuels the Milanese lunches!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Miles 32.5; Units 27

Getting back into the swing of Marathon training after the Romsey 5. Legs still tired on Wednesday, hence no speedwork. A couple of solid tempo runs on Friday and Saturday - those absolutely great days when the world feels with you, and to be outside, working hard in the cold air, feels Sunday long run a bit of a mixed bag - I met a really nice chap called John at the start of the run, and we went together for the first 5 miles or so. I held his pace (somewhat nippier than mine!) though it obviously took it out of me, as I found to my chagrin when the energy just drained from me in the later miles. Still popped in 14.5 miles at a 7.30 overall pace though, so not too bad! My own enthusiasm is the culprit here.

Wine of the week is a New World one (at last I hear you cry, Martin!). Grosset Springvale Watervale Clare Valley Riesling 2007. Oozing with limes, zingy clean notes on the nose, and a real freshness and purity of fruit on the palate, an abundance of flavour. Beautifully dry, and so moreish. Just perfect with some Salmon. Not as well known as Polish Hill, but really deserves to be.