Monday, 26 April 2010

Miles: 26; Units: 24

A quieter week on the running front - for me - as I dropped my Long run on Sunday. Today's post has to be all about the excellent London Marathon. I was spectating this time, watching from about mile 24.5 on the Embankment. I am always truly awestruck by the marathon - what a great event, and one that is, almost without question, about everything that is good in the world - personal endeavour, charity and happiness. What, to use the phrase, is not to like? I had the pleasure of cheering on several friends who took part, as well as the 30 runners for PDSA.

Wine of the week was pretty awesome too - Chianti Classico Riserva 1999, Casa Sola. Richly, brambly/cherry nose, utterly silky palate, soft and with plenty of body, and such length on the palate. As Janet said - makes you wonder why people are so down on Chianti. I must agree!

Monday, 19 April 2010

miles: 40; Units: 23

Highest miles yet recorded during the training phase. Long run not quite as good as last week, however, still a credible effort of 22 miles at 7.31 pace. I have to watch out for over-training, and not to leave my best race 'on the road' as they say. I did love the Spring weather,which makes such a difference to the running experience. Here's a photo of the Test Way - the old train line between Romsey and Stockbridge, a victim of Beeching, now a great 10 mile trail (or 20 if you go both ways as I did!)

Wine of the week has to be Rosso di Montalcino 2008, Camigliano. Not so much for the wine, though that was absolutely lovely, toffee and caramel flavours on a bed of succulent cherries. No, it is wine of the week for the glorious back label, which says (..and I am translating here from Italian so be impressed, please!).."A wine for every occasion in the week. It is the wine for every day, above all in the evening, at home, in the moment of relaxing, after an intense day at work, from Monday to Thursday". (so, clearly not for the weekend, then, that's when you drink the Brunello di Montalcino!). Clearly, this is the essence of a mid-week wine!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Miles: 37.24; Units: 25ish

A great week's running - really great. Topped off nicely with a strong long run at the weekend, just under 23 miles, and at an average 7.30 pace, with a very consistent pace throughout between 7.15 and 7.45. As it wasn't flat, this is especially good. I reckon that the Maidenhead 10 is starting to 'come into the legs' as they say. If I can have three more weeks like this, and then taper well, I will be as well set up as I could wish to be for Edinburgh.

Running related of a sort - and a bit of a rant, kicked off by reading an article on-line. It was, I am saddened to say, from the Daily Mail, which is guaranteed to raise anyone's blood pressure, however I came to it via the BBC website, and there were several other stories in a similar vein, so there is a theme here. The first line was "Women run marathons to keep their weight down, but men sign up for the competition, according to research". Nothing wrong with that, you might think - however, consider the 'but'. If you had used the conjunction 'and', think how different the sentence intent might read - it would make either choice seem valid. In my eyes the 'but' makes the male choice seem less positive, less 'right'. Now, I may be taking unreasonable umbrage at a simple bit of reader-demographic-focused writing, so that the mostly female audience at The Mail can read the article over morning coffee and chuckle knowingly to themselves about 'the way men are' in what they might see as harmless and entirely appropriate gender stereotyping from their point of view. Funny, though, how that sort of imbalance and sexism can be acceptable. Just imagine if the sentence had read "Men run marathons to fufil their potential, but women chat most of the way round the race and most don't push themselves as hard as they could". Again, sweeping generalisations..though I have seen that in my time. I reckon that would have them spluttering into their Mocha Skinny Latte...

..I was really off on one there - sorry! There's just a lot of very slight putting down going on. I find that I perceive a lack of balance there - as if it is ok to knock men as a group down a bit. I wouldn't mind, but (that word again) I rarely see an article in the same paper building us blokes back up again.

Anyway, back to more pleasant matters. No doubt buoyed up by the visit to Terra Vina, and as a reward for the long run, I cracked open a bottle of Haut Brion 1996. A perfumed nose, pure cassis, a bit earthy, with some coffee and tobacco. On the palate, a velvety texture of blackcurrants and maybe a slight hint of vanilla. Soft tannins, not at all obtrusive, howev
er this wine is still young, as you could tell that the fruit was constrained and brooding. A great life ahead of this wine - and more pleasingly 11 bottles still in my cellar. I don't have a wealth of experience of first growths- what I read says that Haut Brion always comes out of its shell only after 15 years or so. So, I will have to wait.

Finally, an excellent tasting note on this wine that links in nicely with my rant..."..the Germaine Greer of the First Growths: earthy, but sexy in a way that can't quite be described.". Well, quite. Pip Pip.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Miles: 26.98; Units: maybe 30?

What a great week for both running and wine. Although the mileage was not spectacular, that is because I was resting before running the Maidenhead 10-miler at the weekend. Whilst I was not initially enamoured with the idea of an early get-up on Good Friday, on account of a 9.30 start and a 90 minute drive, I cracked open some pumping tracks whilst blasting up a pleasingly crowd free M4, and got very much in the mood! The day was one of pleasing things, such as the excellent macchiato doppio created by the man at the Costa Coffee at Winchester services. Then, on arrival, I was greeted by a runner I had met at a previous race - most impressed he remembered me. Really great. And then, to top it all, I knocked off a personal best of over 3 minutes, coming in at 66mins 37 secs, a great time on what was not a pancake flat course as promised. All in all a very good one, and not too pooped when I got home.

Saturday brought what is not wine of the week, but, for once, wine venue of the week, which is Hotel Terravina in Netley Marsh. The latest creation of
Gerard Basset MW and his wife, the magnificently-moustached owner of this fine new hotel (Gerard, not his wife), is a triumph and a tribute to great food and wine. His first great success was the Hotel du Vin in Winchester, and then he sold that on, enabling him to start again (thinks...how often in life do you get a second go?). I was truly awed when he came to us as we chose our wines, and humbly asked if we needed some help! I was of course also very puffed up when he applauded my choice of white, and plumped for the same reds that I would have done so. Oh, what fun! We started with a fresh, crisp Prosecco, moved on to an Albarino from Rias Baixas, then a Rosso di Montalcino. Glorious, and a place much to be recommended for a great dining experience - and in my case, for some lusting at his wine cellar in the photo (bottle envy? certainly...). Happy days, happy Easter!