Sunday, 30 May 2010

Miles: 0; Units: many!

No miles this week - recovering from Edinburgh. I haven't not run for this long for about 12 months, so this is quite strange. I haven't really felt twitchy either until today, Sunday, a week later - I wanted to go out today but my trainer suggested a week's rest so I shall go out tomorrow instead. I've had to fend off the questions around 'am I feeling upset' to which the answer is No! I am delighted to have run Edinburgh, and yes, I wish I had hit my time, that's life! Workwise it has been a tough week, so it has suited me well to be able to crack on with things and not rush back for training. I have resolved that for the next 4 weeks at least I shall just run as I please, no new goals, no targets. I usually find that, when I am ready, a new target appears.

On the wine front, I cooked a great spicy beef and wild mushroom stew last night, which was perfect with Barolo Le Albe Vajra 2001 - the usual hint of roses and tar, really well balanced tannins, silky, oh just
great, and not too powerful. I have not usually got on well with Barolo, but this time I liked it very much indeed. Has really changed my attitude.

Well, just a short post now to get me back on track!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Miles 31; Units 25

Well, the big day has arrived - the Edinburgh Marathon is upon me. And what a day it was! Stepping back a bit, I flew up to Edinburgh on the Friday with Andy, and we had a great weekend - we played it really steady, with a short walk, then a long coffee stop and the papers, then a short walk, then lunch, then a film, then a light dinner and early to bed. Darned hot though! I woke up on Sunday after a rubbish night's sleep, and the weather was just as per forecast. Grey sky, foggy, raining - perfect weather! At the start, it was still grey, so we merrily dropped off our shades and cap in the bag drop and didn't think sunscreen was needed! I started off well, crossed the line in 25secs. I was probably a bit too fast for the first 4 miles, though the course was downhill so it is always difficult to know (and at the start Liz Yelling, no less, said not to worry if you went off a bit fast!). I started to pull back at about 5 miles and returned to 7:15 pace (=3hrs10m). The weather changed suddenly at about 6 miles, and by 12 miles it was already hot and humid. I didn't really think about it and pressed on. I did think that I was feeling it more than I would want to at this stage. I dropped the pace back to a 7:30 pace at about 15 miles, knowing I had plenty of time in hand. By 18 I was really feeling it - tough, starting to lock up in the muscles. At 19 I pulled over for a bit of a pee, and in a way I think that sapped my will. I dropped two miles at 9:00 pace, then stumble-walked for 21 and 22 - not the wall at all, I had lots of energy. My calves especially were totally cramping up - so painful, I even wondered if I would be able to walk to the end, things were so bad. So, I started to wonder 'what might be going wrong' and I thought that I might have a shortage of salt, with the hot day and lots of water. So, I stopped at a spectator;s house, handed her my water bottle and asked if she would put some salt in it! After a few strange looks she went off, and came back a minute later (during which time the St. John's ambulance were checking me out to make sure I wasn't going to keel over! I had to work pretty hard to reassure them that I knew what I was doing!). I took the salt water and in less than 5 minutes I could run again, and I maintained an 8min pace for the last 5k, dropping even to 7:30 for the finish line! The cramps had totally gone - unbelievable - in less than 5 minutes after taking the salt. I have never taken salt tablets on a long run - I shall certainly look at that from now on. So, I managed 3.46, on a day which reached 25 centigrade, I am pink as a lobster on my shoulders, arms and neck, and I am thankful that I am not one of the 200 people who got take to hospital or the man who died. Crikey - now that is a sobering thought - it's only supposed to be running. The race was a reminder that the marathon is a huge challenge, and you can't take anything for granted

I am naturally disappointed not to have hit my time goal, but I am also absolutely proud of my performance in what turned out to be very difficult circumstances. So I think I have things in the right perspective.

Wine of the week was a lovely Sancerre 2008 from Raffault, drunk at The Witchery as a post-race treat.

Now to the week ahead - and REST REST REST!!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Miles 16.9; Units *?*//! (see below)

Well, the tapering has really kicked in, with hardly any miles under my belt, or so it feels. I do struggle with these short runs, trying to keep the pace down. Not easy. The big day approaches, however, and soon all this will be over and I will be delighted - I hope!

The lion's share of this week's blog must of course go to the Wine of the week, which is another event - the Decanter Italian Fine Wine Encounter in London, at the Landmark hotel. What a day! On Saturday, Janet and I took
the train up to London, for 3 rooms of around 90 producers and I reckon 400 wines. I am disappointed to record that I only managed around 100 of them! We have a policy of only allowing ourselves to drink the good ones, however when the quality is as good as these were, then this falls down somewhat - as do I by about 3pm! Crikey I did get very drunk. As always the Tuscany and Umbria wines most pleased us - and how great to be able to talk and share with the actual producers and owners - they really do take the time to come to London because they know we are an interested bunch. I am going to have to stock up on Rosso di Montalcino 2008. Anyway, Sunday was spent mostly recovering (and hence the run not being quite as fast as desired) but what a good reason, eh!

Next Week - Edinburgh!!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Miles 16; Units 23; references to Tapering: 37

The miles don't tell the whole story. I had three rest days this week, a mix of a couple of evening events and a desire to rest well for the Lymington 10k at the weekend - a short race to take advantage of the fitness and endurance from my marathon training. I am also in the first of three tapering weeks - this period when you feel like you have to explain to everyone why you aren't putting in the huge miles at the moment. Tapering is a weird period - whilst it is great to have some time back, you do find that it plays with your mind - you start to feel that the training is leaking out of you at every moment...that you can't run any more...that you will never run again. And yet, when you've done this before, you have to maintain your confidence and remind yourself it works. Which, in a way, is why you do short races like Lymington. It's odd that, in warmup, you try to push the heart rate up and can't seem to find the pace you know you need - and yet, when the gun goes, there it all is. It is a great reminder of the output of some rest. Race stats - 21st of over 800 people, 39.07, 2 seconds slower than my best - however, the race is 50% trail/grass, and over 2 miles are along the seafront (exposed, as you can see from the photo above), with a 20-30mph headwind. so, a very pleasing performance, and a superb training session for Edinburgh. As I ran a 10k instead of a 2-hr run today, ironically I will probably have a longer Sunday run next week. I have just got to get the right balance between maintaining fitness without risking hurting myself.

On the wine front, a quietish week, with the best of the bunch being a Chilean wine, Viña Leyda Las Brisas Pinot Noir, 2008. The Leyda Valley is just eight miles from the Pacific. The sea breezes (las brisas) cool the land, which in this valley, makes such fresh alluring pinot noir. It is strong too, at 14%, and it holds it well. Really silky, bitter cherries..not exactly Burgundy, pretty good nevertheless.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Miles 34.91; Units 28

Last week of long runs before tapering down for the Big Day. My Sunday run was pretty tough, with a lot of gusts of wind, a hilly course through Farley Mount, and drizzle. All told, a good set up for Edinburgh, I feel!

It's been a busy week, preparing for the Bank Holiday, and generally rushing around. So, I very much enjoyed the opportunity to 'come down' from the long run by watching a classic of the Sunday afternoon film genre - 'High Society'. What better combo than Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra, First of all, Grace Kelly is of course gorgeous - perhaps not quite as sultry as in 'Rear Window', but no slouch. Then the great duets between the crooners - Bing and Frank - whilst tipsy on Champagne - well, what's not to like about that way to spend the day? And of course, the gravelly-deep Louis A. What a wonderful world indeed. Makes you wish you could visit Newport in the '50s..but then we wouldn't be allowed, probably! I did feel like a bit of a slouch in my post-running sweat pants, as I watched them in jacket and tie even whilst relaxing...!

Wine of the week - a little oddity called Malvirà Roero Arneis 2008 from Piedmont in Italy. Went very well with a stir fry on Sunday night. This is an elegant wine, not something you see every day, from the Arneis grape. Almost a 'forgotten grape' of Italy, it is dry, with a hint of peachy-apricottyness, and a slight tang. Not unlike a leaner Viognier. Lovely.