Monday, September 24, 2012

NY Marathon Week 3/9

Week 3. Objective ECOs 700, actual ECOs 715

It's been a week of solving mysteries. The first mystery I decided to solve was "Where is Jonathan?". I'd sent him emails weeks ago and had started to actually worry that something bad had happened to him, or at least that there had been some important change afoot that I was unaware of. Jonathan has been my coach for the last 5 years and I haven't really heard from him since I decided to take 6 months away from following a structured training programme. I did receive a mysterious email from him during the summer, in which he said he had "something to tell me" but I never did find out what that something was. I realized I was actually a bit nervous to call him up in case I was upset by the reason for his absence and, in any case, I had decided to train myself for the New York Marathon, so in a way, I wanted to avoid situations that might make me change my mind. I discovered from a friend who went with us to Morocco last year that Jonathan has moved to Mexico to live! In fact, just as my sabbatical was finishing, he was taking a real one from the Universidad Europea de Madrid. This is not as unexpected as it might sound - I knew that he was trying to set up a branch of his triathlon school in Mexico and, furthermore, his wife is Colombian. It turns out that the main reason for the move is to study obesity in children, a subject in which the state of Yucatán where he is now based is a leading expert. I'm sure that the triathlon school will continue to run perfectly in Madrid but, by now, I know pretty well how the training plans are devised, I never train with the other athletes and I'm less concerned about maximising my performance than I was before my "break". The bottom line is that I want to see how far I can go on my own.

The other mystery is far less glamorous and it concerns my mountain bike. Cycling home on Monday I noticed that the back disc brake is once again rubbing, so much so that it is noticeably harder work. I've had the brakes looked at twice in the last month or so and the brake pads have worn down incredibly quickly. The guy in the bike shop reckons that the brake needs taking to bits and lubricating so I'll definitely leave that to him. I've had enough of fiddly and potentially costly home bike maintenance to last me for a while. It's a bit ironic considering that I was just thinking that one of the things I most like about my mountain bike is that I can fix everything that goes wrong with it myself.

People at work have started saying that I look tired or asking me whether I have returned to training - well, it's not as though I ever really stopped training but it's been a while since I last trained as hard as this. My calf muscles were stiff for the first time in ages so I found myself reaching for my Compex Runner which I use as I kind of self-massage. It had been so long since I had last used it that the battery had completely died. I discovered that you could buy a new one for about 60 € online or for only 20 € buy just the 4 cells without the sticker that holds them together. The catch is that you can only get the cells sent to you if you live in Switzerland which, perhaps not coincidentally, is where Compex is from.

Considering that this week was one of the two peaks before the Marathon, it is striking that I only went to the gym at lunchtime once, to do weights. The rest of the workouts were either series (intervals) of fast running which I always do on the treadmill these days, the long run I did on Sunday or the running to and from work on Thursday.

This weekend was the weekend of the "Migas", a local festival where my in-laws live in which this simple peasant food is prepared over open fires. My father in-law takes it pretty seriously as he often wins first prize  (a live lamb) although, this year, the prize will be awarded by raffle and not by decree.

That hat with a solar powered fan could be the next big thing for Ironman pros
As last year, there was a cycle race going on in parallel but, unlike last year, it was only open to juniors. I had thought of taking part this time but my father in-law hadn't realized that junior did not mean anyone younger than him...

Still, I'm quite glad to have had the temptation removed from me. These guys looked pretty professional and there was a big hill on the course that would have relegated me to the back of the pelotón and I would probably have soon found myself in a vacuum. The added pressure of my in-laws assuming that I would be the fastest cyclist just because I have done an Ironman wouldn't have helped either.

As usual, we did absolutely nothing except eat and sleep siestas. It's always the same when we go to Ciudad Real. But if you can't recharge their batteries when they stay with their parents or parents-in-law, then where can you? I actually woke up ahead of my alarm today for the first time that I can remember on a Monday.

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