Sunday, October 14, 2012

NY Marathon Week 6/9

Week 6. Objective ECOs 800, actual ECOs 872

This was the big week, so it's not too surprising that I spent most of it hobbling around as if I were twice my age. For various reasons, it's been one of those weeks that an English person would call "hard", a Spanish person "complicated" and a Chinese person "interesting".

The car was still being repaired so I commuted to work most of the week either by bike or running and, on Wednesday, I was told that the car was ready to be picked up a bit late in the day so I had to ride as fast as I could to get to the garage in time. All this added to the load on my poor tired legs which, by Thursday, were really feeling very heavy.

I was astonished to weigh myself at 81.5 kilos - almost 10 kilos less than I was in August when I returned from Vietnam! This is probably a slight exaggeration as I weighed myself straight after a particularly sweaty run but I've certainly lost at least 5 kilos and I wasn't exactly overweight before. It has been very humid all week but, as it has not been terribly hot by Madrid standards, it wasn't apparent until my body temperature rose and I started sweating buckets. The scales reckon I have only 6.8% body fat but then they are paid to flatter - even so, they are a good for making relative comparisons and they were showing more like 10-11% in the summer.

I wasn't sure how I would feel for my hard workout on Friday of 3 lots of 20 minutes at just below my anaerobic threshold but at this point in the week I seemed to get a second wind. Even so, as it was a bank holiday and I had all day, I decided to do the first two sets in the morning and the third in the evening. One of my friends at work always asks me what horror film I am going to watch this week during my hard workouts - this time it was "Piranha", which I only realised halfway through the first set, that I had already seen. After the second set, I stumbled out into the garden and had an irresistible urge to pee. One of the great things about having your own garden is that you can pee in it without any qualms. Just as I was finishing, I saw the elderly next door neighbour shaking out her carpet - oops. That evening, as soon as I stepped on the running machine and pressed the "start button" for the final set, all the power went off in the basement. I can only guess that my excessive sweating had got into the circuits of the treadmill and I hadn't allowed it time to dry off. You may think that this sounds unlikely but in the gym at work, I found that if I spent more than an hour on a particular machine, it would short out all the machines in the same bank - something that didn't add much to my popularity in the gym. One of my minor gripes about living in Spain is that every single house I have lived in has had a terrible electrical installation. I notice this especially as I tend to walk around in bare feet, so I get a tingling feeling every time I open the dishwasher, for example (which, to be honest, is less often than it should be). As a British citizen, I'm convinced that the UK 3 pronged plug with its separate earth is superior to those in the rest of the world. Whenever I get on the running machine, in spite of running in rubber soled shoes, I get a mild electric shock in my ears from wearing my headphones - don't ask me what circuit I am making there, I can't figure it out, all I can say is that it is uncomfortable and annoying.

There is another reason why I am quite anxious to get an electrician in to fix the circuits. In the basement the humidity collects in a little well underneath a trapdoor, with a little pump which is activated in much the same way as the water filling a cistern only that, if there is no electrical current, there is nothing to stop the water rising... and it has been raining a lot recently.

Once again, I thought I'd take my long run a little more slowly, taking care to keep my pulse rate below my aerobic threshold. Once again, I ended up doing the run at a pace of 4:29 per kilometre and, this time, the 29th kilometre felt easy, as did the 30th and 31st and the last kilometre I ran in less than 4 minutes. I did more or less the same route as last week, with some extra bits tacked on. There was even a triathlon in the Casa de Campo just as there had been last week. As I described last time, Madrid Río is basically a path alongside the river where Madrileños go to walk, skate, cycle and run - priority is given to pedestrians while the cyclists are not supposed to cycle faster than 6 kph(!!!). So you'll understand my confusion when a recreational path vigilante running towards me on her left (my right) told me that "for my own safety, I should run on the left". Now, you may not be aware that traffic in Madrid goes on the right hand side of the road. If we were running on the hard shoulder of a major road, this would be good advice, as the oncoming traffic would be approaching at a relative speed of 100 kph, say, while the traffic coming from behind would still be overtaking at a relative speed of 80 kph, say, so it would be a lot safer to face the oncoming traffic. Running at around 13-14 kph along Madrid Río, however, the bikes overtaking me (while breaking the absurd speed limit...) are only going a few kilometres per hour faster than me, so they have plenty of time to go around me, while I don't add to the general confusion and chaos by running on the wrong side of the path towards another runner at a relative speed of 25 kph! I can't help wondering how she managed to keep running while presumably telling those rows of people walking 5 or 6 abreast in the middle of the path to keep to one side or the other, not to mention the tiny tots wobbling about on their little bikes with stabilizers.

Until next week, I leave you with this video. In the same way that Armstrong proved that it's not about the bike (but it is about the EPO), this guy (Martyn Ashton) shows that you don't need a special bike like Danny McAskil in order to perform death defying stunts. Instead, he rides a 10,000 pound Pinarello bike, like the one Wiggins used to win the Tour de France.

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