Sunday, 28 November 2010

miles 30.46; Bike miles 0; Units 27

A good running week. I planned for 4 runs, however only 3 resulted as the Saturday run fell to the combined demons of ice, cold and shopping (!). I thought I might be able to nip in a cheeky 3 or 4 miles after we had returned from the delights of the first batch of Christmas shopping (oh, and buying a new it was not all bad) but it was not to be. And a rather nice bottle of La Tour du Mons 2000 (Cru Bourgeois Margaux) called too..

This week, I managed a hill session in the cold on Wednesday, which did not tax me too much, a steady 7 on Friday, and then a challenging and hilly 18 on Sunday. This was a great run in the cold air - just splendid to be out there when it is so quiet and cold. Just really wonderful. The temperature hovered between -1 and +1, no snow in sight, and a bit of occasional ice. Just really good.

I was reflecting as I ran on one significant change in my attitude since running - and that is my approach to artificial fibres. Before running, it had to be cotton, wool or silk all the way, with maybe a begrudged bit of nylon in the socks. However, once you start running, and begin to experience the water-holding properties of a cotton T-shirt, then it is not long until you embrace polyester and its wicking qualities fully. Now, I would not dream of running out without a full deck of man-made fibres, and, doing so, I am assured of a cool, dry and refreshed run. There's a metaphor here just waiting to escape around what it takes to make you try something new.

The pinnacle is no doubt Skins - compression wear - running tights
(when did I ever think I'd be talking about this?). Suffice it to say that I wear the short tight as an undergarment whilst running, and right now I am wearing the full tight (pictured) as a recovery product. And, you know, it does just seem to help my muscles recover more quickly. They are just like the socks you wear in long haul, or in hospital, helping improve circulation, making it easier for the blood to move through your body and letting the body flush out waste products from exercise more quickly.

Perhaps more importantly I look like a cool surf dude from the future when I wear them. Hurrah! Much to be suggested (and with Christmas coming up...?)

Although yet again no bike miles, I did put my wind-up and eco-friendly LED lights on my bike. You never know, they might get used..

Wine of the week and the vlog has to be d'Arenberg's Dead Arm Shiraz 2001 (about £45, Lay and Wheeler) - a gorgeously jammy, rich shiraz from Australia, one of the iconic wines. What is so delightful is that it has no harshness, no edges - it just a solid wall of lovely fruit, that goes on and on in the mouth, fades gently, and continues for minutes. This is beautiful wine - and so different from the European wines I have been featuring hithertofore.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

miles 31.49; Bike Miles 0; Units 22

Well, there are a number of things to flag up this week:

1) I cracked 30 miles for the first time in ages
2) I ran 4 times for the first time in ages
3) miles exceeded units - hurrah! - for the first time in a long, long while.

so..all of these prove that I am clearly on the marathon training track. 20 weeks to go, and this is a good start. I have also been reminded, however, how much work marathon training is, the long runs especially. So I am far from complacent, rather, nervous..

A curious long run today as well - I went to the usual venue for the running club informal Sunday run - and was the only one there! So, I decided that I would head out on my own from St. Catherine's in Winchester, in spite of not really knowing where to go. I wended (good word!) my way towards Twyford, and then found a delightful stretch of the Itchen Navigation - a wonderfully rugged flood plain along the banks of the Itchen, an oasis of medieval byways on the outskirts of Winchester. For sure, the sound of the M3 reminds you that you are not in 'The Name of the Rose', nevertheless, a delightful path to follow. At the end I did have to run some 'junk miles' just to make up the half marathon, but that was ok, as it was around Winchester College and therefore rather smart.

The wine this week is a real oddity. Ballistarius Letrari 2000, which I should imagine is not available readily outside of Trento in Northern Italy. This wine is a mix of mostly Bordeaux grapes - Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot - plus Lagrein, a local grape. It is grown in the hills above Lake Garda, where the climate can be marginal, so you get a lean-ness that accentuates the acidity and light, delicate fruits. It is a refreshing wine to drink, intensely flavoursome, more like a plum fruit wine really, and great with food. Perhaps this is what claret was like 100 years ago, before the wines became all Parkerised and fruit-driven, like Oz or USA wines. All in all something just...well, different! I would imagine that in a tasting panel it would do poorly, but on its own, and after 24 hours of breathing (yes, really!) it comes into its own.

Pip pip.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Miles 27; Bike miles 0; Units Plenty

Well hello again, dear reader, after my two week break. I am especially delighted to have been able to post to you from Mauritius, if the wine choice was a little bit tongue in cheek!

Running-wise the holiday has been a great success, largely due to the excellent gym facilities. Now, I know a number of you will be saying 'holiday', 'RUNNING?' so let me reassure you that it was appropriately balanced as part of the week. In fact I especially liked going for a session in the air-conditioned gym, then watching the sunset with a Caipirinha, still in gym gear! Yes, I was a bit mad, however I loved the spinning classes with the mad instructor Adriano 'you have to focus!' and the cool gym. I tried a beach run but the slope was too much of a strain on the old ankles. The locals clearly did not mind, however, as we saw a daily procession of runners from the local school as we settled down at about 11am.

So, my Sunday run this week was back in the UK, and I really enjoyed being able to get outside, having pretty much done all of my running on a treadmill on holiday. It was chilly, but fresh, and really inspired me. The one time that a contrast with holiday weather is not an issue, I reckon!

Winewise, the two weeks on holiday have clearly not been all about fine experiences, as the island has to import everything, and whilst you could have some of the more well known fine wines, boy were they pricey! Most of what we drank was medium-priced South African, and actually very enjoyable, especially rose, which I enjoyed in that climate. Holiday, after all, is about kicking back a bit. However, it was great to get back into a classic - so this evening we have a Bordeaux on the video blog. I have recorded this on the macbook in the interesting to see if the quality is very different.

Video Number 6 - Chateau Batailley 2002, Paulliac, Bordeaux (c. £30, reasonably available eg from Berry Bros)

See you next time!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A special report on Mauritius wines..

Hello there - couldn't resist this opportunity to use my new Macbook Air and give a not-so-subtle holiday will be delighted that I also posted 20 miles last week, mostly on a treadmill!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

..and continues to apologise that he is still on holiday.., a wine for wintry times..Lirac Roger Sabon, Chapelle de Maillac, 2006, from the Southern Rhone Valley. Marvellous with rich foods!

Wine Society £14 ish, available in a few other places