Sunday, 20 March 2011

VLM week -5: More recovery and the Fleet half...

I feel like I have turned a corner now with this injury, and whilst it is not yet over, my sense is that I have it at least under control, so it will not disrupt the BIG DAY (no, not the royal wedding, the London marathon!). 5 runs this week, 33 miles, and the Fleet half marathon! Now that is pretty good by my reckoning. I have been managing the leg somewhat, keeping it in check, and just running within my top abilities - which is, thankfully, still more than is needed speed-wise for the marathon.

It was a delight this week to have company on the way to the Fleet half. Andy, a colleague from B&Q, (who is also tackling London, for the first time) foolishly consented to put up with my driving and my drivelling for the journey. The weather was just right, not breezy, cool but not cold. A big field this year, 2300+ I hear, and a new course, to take account of bunching at the start. Once again the organisers put on a grand show. I paced myself steadily round to a 1hr30min38secs finish, a 6m53s pace. Felt great - and a small massage and then a beer afterwards also contributed to the general sense of benessere!  Finally, I had to show you this photo, which to me sums up running - a bin overflowing with bananas! It says it all really...

This week, a return to the classics on the wine front. With a good stew, we enjoyed Chateau Cantemerle 2003 (c. £25/bt), a 5th growth Bordeaux from the Haut-Medoc. Cantemerle is always well respected, and espoused all of the usual and expected Bordeaux notes, such as lead pencil, earth, tobacco, leather and cassis. On the palate, the heat of the 2003 showed lovely blackcurranty fruit, good medium-weight body, and soft, gentle tannins that support the wine without dominating. Altogether, the perfect drop, and a lot of good stuff. Will be interesting to see if it develops, or if the fruit fades. We shall see..

Sunday, 13 March 2011

VLM week -6: the week with a slow road of recovery

I will limit the whinging about my injury to this...I spent the week managing the problem, quite deliberately, to ensure I toe the line on 17th April. So, still 22.32 miles and four runs, 3 of them deliberately steady. I also undertook some sports massage - truly painful, the most painful I have ever experienced, however it is what is needed.

Anyway, enough already of my moaning.

Monday and Tuesday were the remaining days with our Twinners, and as I said last week, I feel like I have been on holiday in my own town. Our guests were more than guests, they were family, and we delighted in how lovely Romsey and Stockbridge are. And of course this was an excellent reason to stay off running for a bit...aaah, I did say I would not talk about that!

As compensation for this I have been ensuring that the quality of the wines tasting has been high! Two of these wines were drunk whilst the Italian Twinners were here, the other two in what has been a high-quality wine week. I recapped on the bottles with a photograph, and I can recall lovely memories. Starting from the left they are:

St. Joseph Clos de Cuminaille 2008 Dme Gaillard (Berry Bros, £30). 
Pierre's first St Joseph is from a sandy and granite plot, with real complexity, weight and meatiness. On the nose, violets and spice, on the palate, lovely ripe fruit and plenty of potential.

Vosne-Romanee Grivot 2006 (Wine Society, £25) Vosne RomanĂ©e is one of the smallest wine villages in Burgundy, and even at villages level (which this is) then the wines are said to have complexity and longevity. Of course it also has the 'halo' of that most expensive of vineyards, Domaine de la RomanĂ©e-Conti.  This wine is vibrant in colour, not yet fading at the rim as it is young, with ripe aromas of cherries and raspberries . On the palate, there are firm tannins and quite high acidity, and a lovely length of flavour. Opens up nicely. Probably needs a few years to reach its true potential.

Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva 2004 As with all Chiantis, the grape in sangiovese, and the style medium-bodied, with strawberry and cherry fruits. Rufina is characterised by a more chompy style, with just a bit more tannic body than Classico. Of course, the rules for Chianti are now so general that almost any style can exist, once you can include international grapes such as Merlot, and local traditional grapes such as Mammolo, Colorino, and Canaiolo.  This wine from Bucerchiale is at the very top of the bunch, with an intense ruby red colour, on the palate strawberry and cherry notes, and a whiff of tobacco, leather and wood. Just a great structure to the wine, integrated yet full tannins, and real body. Yummy, one for the long haul.

La Monetta Gavi (Waitrose £9.99) Clean, classic, fresh, citrussy, gorgeous. From the Cortese grape, grown in Piedmont . Lovely.

What a great week!!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

VLM week -7: The week I injured myself..

Well, the title pretty much gives the game away here. After the twinge on Sunday, I took it easy in circuits on the Monday night, and all seemed well. I put in a good performance on the track on Tuesday, 12 x 400, even deliberately holding just a bit back in reserve - I said to myself (quite presciently) that I had all the fitness I needed, now I just wanted to preserve it for 7 weeks and stay injury free. Tcha! Took Wednesday off, and a gentle session on the gym on Thursday. I'm over this, I thought. Oh how wrong I was, as on Friday, during a tempo phase, the twinge returned. I took the difficult decision to scrub my Saturday long run and rest up. Never an easy call, it is a decision you roll into over several hours, dropping from 22 miles, to well, maybe 16, to perhaps just 10, to..well, you get the point. The arguments with yourself. So, there it was, 2 runs, 14.8 miles, in what should have been a busy week.

The upside, however, was that there was more time to prepare for the arrival of the twinners from Treviglio in Italy  - and for me not to be knackered! Their flight got in late to Gatwick, and they arrived in Romsey at about 11.30 at night - so, after the swiftest of hellos and buongiornos, we whisked our guest, Giorgio, off back to ours for a bite of cheese and some chat. We were delighted to be able to give him his first ever French Red wine - a simple Cotes du Rhone from Paul Jaboulet (I would have perhaps gone grander if I had realised the import of the event..) which went down very well. Then, onwards the next morning to Stonehenge, as you can see, before heading to Salisbury. The day was glorious - cold, yes, but crisp and fresh. After walking round Salisbury Cathedral and Close, I became overwhelmingly proud of our history. It is sometimes only when you have to present your local area to others that you truly appreciate what you have...and reconnecting with the history of our own part of England has been a real delight. As, of course, have our twinners been!

Before he came, with a lovely piece of beef for supper, we tucked into a few glasses of Mont Gras Carmenere (Waitrose - £8.06), one of the grapes that Chile is making its own. Originally it came from Bordeaux, and was a blending grape. It suffered heavily from phylloxera, which rather wiped it out in Europe - but Chile does not have this issue. And, initially, the vintners thought it was Merlot! Suddenly they realised that they had something unique on their hands. Its style is deeply fruity, ripe raspberries, coffee, long and powerful. Altogether a lovely wine.

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