Monday, September 17, 2012

NY Marathon Week 2/9

Week 2. Objective ECOs 600, actual ECOs 605

I always find it difficult to train effectively when I have to go on a business trip. Apart from the hours eaten up by the actual travelling and the fact that you can't realistically take your bike with you, neither can you skip out at lunchtime for a quick workout. On the other hand, the evenings tend to be a bit freer as there are no household or parenting duties to attend to (not that I normally do any of the former or much of the latter).

From my bike commute. This is where I had my Evel Knievel style accident 3 years ago
Monday was a fairly light day: commuting to work and back by bike, half an hour running as a warm up and then a weights session. Sometimes I can be feeling quite tired and achy on a Monday, especially if I have done a long run the day before (as is the case today) and yet doing some weights can make me feel less stiff; if I get any "DOMS" (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) from the weights, it tends to be two days after. Which is why I often try to do my hardest workout the day after my weights session.

So on the Tuesday I did two sets of four lots of five minutes at my AnT (Anaerobic Threshold) which meant, in practice, 5 of these at 17 kph and the last 3 at 16.5 kph. I was still wearing the accelerometer dongle thingy for the study I was doing for Santander Por Tu Corazón so I had that extra little motivation to do the workout properly without any "extended breaks". I was wearing the Polar Heart Rate strap for this one and the running machine was reporting some totally wacky numbers from 60-220 so I don't know how much useful data they will get out of it. As for the accelerometer, you are not supposed to get it wet so I don't know if it will have even lived beyond the first day as they turned off the little display, so there was no way of telling whether it was working. Anyway, I should get the results in a few months, so all will be revealed then (apart from any sensitive health information on this blog, of course!).

I flew to London on Wednesday and so it made sense to make this a rest day. Although, by the time I got to the hotel I was itching to do something. I hastily put on my running kit and headed out of the door, noting that it had just started to drizzle pleasantly. After two minutes it was raining so heavily that I started slipping around in my shoes, reminding me of my "red carpet" debacle in Vietnam. Something tells me that the bill would have amounted to more than the 80 euros that that little incident cost me. I ended up running a grand total of four minutes.

My second hard workout of the week was the next day, so perhaps it was just as well. I ran round and round Regent's park - three lots of 15 minutes progressing from just over my Aerobic Threshold (AT) to just under my Anaerobic Threshold. Every time I run around Regent's Park I end up getting totally disorientated and have to ask for directions back to Marylebone road: this time was no exception. I noticed a lot of people on road and triathlon bikes going round and round and round the park. I thought that it must be exceptionally boring to do that but then I realized that they would probably think the same thing about what I was doing, if they were actually bored enough to notice me.

The run that I had planned and had been looking forward to doing all week I finally got around to on Friday. My idea was to run from the hotel (near Great Portland Street) along the Regent's Canal all the way to the Olympic Stadium and back. It was the only chance I had to get to see the stadium and experience the thrill of remembering all that had been achieved there over the last couple of months in the Olympics and, more recently, the Paralympics. The canal stretches right across London and merges into other waterways but it ducks momentarily under Islington, popping back up just around the corner from where I used to live. I'd been down the towpath before but never so far and not for a very long time. There were all kinds of nice middle class hippy distractions along the way: a floating market, someone selling second hand books out of a longboat, pubs and winebars and babies being pushed along in their Bugaboos. The road signs under each bridge are the only reminder that you are cutting through the heart of London. That, and the occasional maniac on a bike who nearly knocks you into the water. Had I done this a week earlier or a week later I might have actually had a chance to see the stadium close up; unfortunately for me it was being guarded by a rather un-imposing asian man who was very surprised to hear how far I had run to get there. There was no persuading him and he seemed too nice to get into trouble by running past him or anything like that, so I turned around and headed home. In the end I covered 24 kilometres, passing the half marathon mark in just over 1 hour 35 minutes. I started to get a bit tired over the last half an hour but I was enjoying the run so much (and I had to get back in time to meet a friend) that I kept going at that pace, even if my heart rate went out of the range it was supposed to be in. It probably explains why I felt physically tired at the weekend and had stiff calf muscles for the first time since the Marathon I ran back in February!

IKEA floating market on Regent's Canal...
How quaint
As a consequence I left the 90 minute run to the very last minute on Sunday, now back in Madrid. I still felt very stiff and, to be honest, I would have preferred to put my feet up, but this is where having an objective like a Marathon to run makes all the difference. As long as there was no risk of injuring myself, I was going out of that door. In fact, the run itself wasn't too bad after all, and I actually felt much better for it. For some reason, I'd been in a pretty foul mood all day. Part if not all of that reason was because I'd tried again (in vain) to extract the broken screw from the idiotic piece of carbon I'd recently bought in order to raise the handlebars on my triathlon bike and decided that it was a lost cause. That's actually a very mild way of putting it. I decided that I would put a definitive end to all attempts to fix it in the future by taking a hammer to it and smashing it to pieces. Even this was unsuccessful as it is so tough that hitting it with a hammer just made it bounce several metres into the air. It nearly went into the neighbour's garden and I could just envision the embarrassing conversation that I would have to have in order to get it back to finish off the job. Nevertheless, it is quite definitely beyond all repair now, so that's that - it's completely screwed (if you'll forgive the pun). Needless to say, I wasn't terribly proud of myself after that little episode but at least I managed to do it out of sight of the kids. These kind of things have the potential to annoy me more than most people can imagine. Even I know that it is completely irrational and overblown and yet it takes me hours to get it out of my head, like an itchy spot on the end of your nose that you just have to scratch.

There is nothing like a good bit of shadenfraude to cheer oneself up or at least to put things in perspective ("at least there is someone worse off than me"). It's cheap and selfish but it works. As we were about to enter into the parking at the local cinema I saw a guy with a mountain bike on his roof rack just up ahead. It caught my eye because it still had a race number on it that had flipped upside down as a result of the wind. I started beeping frantically at him because I could see that he wan't going to make it. There was a big red and white stripy sign whose sole purpose was to warn you that you might hit the ceiling by instead making you hit it, instead. You'd think that they would make the sign slightly more forgiving but this one was so firmly rooted to its spot that it knocked the bike and the roof rack clean off the car. As I drove past the unfortunate victim I said how sorry I felt for him and he just shrugged and said "No pasa nada". Had that been me I would have gone berserk. Maybe I can try to take a leaf out of his book.

My wife asked me today if I would be buying another handlebar raiser thingy so that "she could be prepared" to which I said "no". I'll just have to make do with my aggressive position on my bike - it seems like it will be easier to adapt to it than adapt it to me. There was something unaesthetic and displeasing about raising the bar on the bike anyway and at least now I know how to take the handlebars off the bike for packing as well as the potential breaking points.

Normal position
Raised handlebars

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