Sunday, 2 January 2011

miles 57.54; Bike miles 0.1; Units: probably more than 57!

Well, dear reader, here we are at the end of my first year of blogging. My commitment was to write a blog once a week for a year - which I have now done, albeit not always regularly on the week. I intend to continue with the Blog, though I may permit myself some variance in the format now and then. Might I also thankyou at this stage for your perseverance and interest. More comments always welcome!

So, to running. I am delighted to finish the year with my highest ever mileage in one week. It's a little bit of a cheat in one sense, as the 7 days had two long runs, because the timing of Christmas pushed on Long run a day later. However the honest truth is that I have run 5 times in 7 days with with two long runs of 16 and 20 miles. My muscles know nothing of calendar days and think only of elapsed time! The good news is that I am holding together remarkably well. The not-so-good news is that I have now a clear benchmark that shows me that I am good for 20 miles only at the moment (ie I am 6.2 miles short of the marathon) and I can only hold a half marathon pace for about 25 minutes. So, I have lots of work to do! However, this is week 16 of a 16 week plan - so a pretty good start!

I don't have resolutions as such for the running year, however I do have some specific training goals. One is to incorporate a weekly track session where possible in the marathon build up. Secondly, to aim to get above 50 miles a week for 4-6 weeks in mid Feb to March. This will no doubt mean that I have to plan to run into work and back again on at least one day of the week to get that in. So that's the third training goal - to plan better!

I'm also going to commit to getting the alcohol level down from Monday 10th, when Christmas wines and foods should all be eaten up. Fear not, however - I said DOWN not teetotal. I'm not mad. Life is about balance, and there's no point sacrificing one pleasure simply for another. My goal is achievable without such wild swings. Now, if I'd aimed for sub -3hr marathon...that would be a different matter, and monkishness would be needed!

Which leads neatly on to my last wine of the year. Rather in the same way that you get to sing one Christmas carol on the Sunday after Christmas, then this will be the last of the Christmas wines - the other Port that we didn't get round to. The choice this time is Quinta do Vesuvio 1992 (£50-£60, Corney & Barrow). Firstly, a quick port lesson. Vintage port is only made in the 2 or 3 years a decade when the port 'houses' decide that the quality is top notch. It is self-regulated, and, as the houses don't want to compromise their reputation by over-declaring, it works well. In the 'not quite so good' years the houses still produce a top port, which they bottle as a 'Quinta' Port using the name of their top estate (Quinta) from which their best grapes always come - eg in top years you get Taylor's Vintage Port, in 2nd rank years you get Taylors Quinta do Vargellas Vintage Port. These wines are still excellent, and usually quite a bit cheaper. Still with me? Good.

Now, Vesuvio makes this difficult! Because it is an excellent set of vineyards, originally developed by the Ferreira family, and now owned by the Symingtons (of Warre, Dow and Graham fame) since 1989. The intention is to produce vintage port, pretty much every year, with each year representing the character of that vintage, more like, say, Bordeaux does. They have set their standard very high, as the port is made with hand picking, and traditional foot treading in granite lagares. It is much more than simple Quinta quality, definitely. But a bit confusing for the port drinking public who have learned the simple rule in the paragraph above!

So, what of the 1992?  The year was very dry at the start, almost too dry. Thankfully the rains came in May and June. The colour was a deep red, with an intense brambly/pruny fruit on the nose, and good concentration. The balance of fruit and spirit was good. A lovely port - however, somewhat in the shadow of the Grahams 1983 from the previous week, which just had the edge in terms of power, structure and balance.

Still, a wine that gave me much pleasure in the latter days of the Christmas break. Happy days.

No video this week, alas, as I still haven't managed to get the time to work out the technical issues. Happy New Year to you all.

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