I said that I would look to change the shape of my blog when the new year commences - and to be honest I have not yet worked out exactly what that means! However I do know that for the next 15 weeks, preparations for the London Marathon on 17th April will figure highly and soak up an increasing amount of my free time. And of course, this week we returned to work on Tuesday..
After a belting 57 miles the week before, the next set of changes to my training plan started to show themselves, commencing first with the Tuesday track session. It was a bit of a rush getting away from work, changed and at the track for 6.45ish, in time for a warm up. The SAC members were friendly very open, which was great, and helped put me at my ease. After all, I am 40 and have not done any track sessions or races, and a lot of the crowd are young, thin and fast! There are definite groups that have formed over time, and you join in where you can keep up the pace - or just a bit ahead, maybe. That is perhaps what is so great about running - you get out what you put in - and you do your talking 'on the track. All great athletes welcome anyone who is prepared to try, no matter their level. Anyway, it felt just great, to bang out 6 x 800m at a very fast pace, with such a crowd, and well below zero 0c! I am looking forward to becoming a regular.
So, that done, the second piece of the jigsaw was the Hampshire County Championships Cross Country. Now, last time I ran XC was when I was about 17, apart from one race two years ago as part of the Old Boys XC team at my old School. So, this was a shock to the system - muddy, tough, long (about 7 miles) and fast-paced. A word about the event - everyone is part of a club, and when you arrive at the field, each of the local clubs has set up a tent with a banner outside - it looked like a jousting contest, with competing warriors working for their clubs. I was a knight going into battle in my club colours! No souvenirs here, this is raw racing, look after yourself stuff. It felt great! and my placing was not too bad, about middle of my age group, and just over a 7min/mile pace, which is pretty good on that course.
Let me tell you, the next day I struggled round a recovery 5 miles...
Winewise, I am trying to hold back a bit after Christmas, so during the week we are lowering the amount (not stopping, I am not MAD) and perhaps only having a full bottle on the weekend. This week, a step into the New World with Mendel Malbec 2007, a sensational wine from Mendoza in Argentine. It is imported by the Wine Society, about £13-£15. Still a bit young, this is a hand-crafted and loved wine. The vines are over 70 years old, and the wine is aged in small tanks, 100% new oak...real love. Malbec is very much the 'junior' grape in Bordeaux, and the heart of Cahors, where it is called Cot. This variety needs the heat to sing fully. However the Argentinians have taken it to their heart and are rapidly making it 'their' grape, having grown it since the back end of the 19th century.
What of the wine? Well, dense, rich fruit, very intense, beautifully consistent right to the bottom of the bottle. Tastewise, rich, thick cherry and plum aromas, a real dollop of fruit compote. You could almost cut it with a knife! I think and hope this will age well over the next 5 years, and I am probably going to keep 3 bottles for that time, and drink 2 more now to enjoy its youthful energy. Really, for this price, a great wine.
Finally, no video this week as I still haven't found the time to work out what is going wrong. I promise that I will....
Until next week..and sorry for the late posting,