Monday, November 12, 2012

Valencia Marathon Week 10/11

Week 10. Objective ECOs 600, actual ECOs 644

Back home...
The last minute cancelling of the New York Marathon put a bit of a spanner in the works of my carefully constructed training plan. Had they cancelled it earlier, I would still have gone to New York - who wouldn't?!  - but I would have stopped my taper sooner. Other than running the Marathon, I would have done about 200 ECOs, so the running I did over the weekend instead took me to about 400 ECOs, leaving me with the dilemma of whether to keep the intensity at the same level for the third week in a row, or to squeeze in a mini peak. I felt pretty rested in spite of all the travelling and associated jet lag, so I decided to do a final little push with a focus on speed and running at Marathon pace over volume.

I have never had to pay to go to a gym in New York. For some reason, they seem to be quite happy to give out week long guest passes to friends of mine who are members, knowing full well that there is no chance that I will be joining as I live in Madrid. I still get emails from Equinox from the last time I went there 3 years ago. So, again, thanks to a friend, I was able to do my series (interval) training in the Equinox gym in Upper West Side. Although it is pretty difficult to stand out in a city where "anything goes", I did attract some unwanted attention with my huffing and puffing on the treadmill. There was a sticker on the wall saying "I CAN HEAR YOU!" which I thought might be a reference to heavy breathers but instead turned out to be asking people not to use their mobile phones while exercising.

The rest of the day I spent riding around on a borrowed road bike. The traffic was much easier than usual as many of the cars were otherwise employed queuing up for "gas" in endless lines that reminded me of the time I went to Romania in the 90s. New York turned out to be a fantastic city to explore by bike, with bike lanes all round the perimeter of Manhattan as well as up and down the length of the peripheral avenues and over most of the bridges. I even felt safe bombing down 5th Avenue in the company of the iconic yellow taxis and I soon discovered that jumping red lights, going the wrong way down a one way street and riding on the pavement were all behaviours that seemed to be expected of an urban cyclist. (As my Mum reads this blog, I should point out that I didn't necessarily do any of these things myself.) I went up to East Harlem and found an authentic looking Mexican restaurant near 110th street and Lexington. The best Mexican food I have had in New York has always been in the most unlikely looking places. Then I went over the Greensboro Bridge to Queens and the Pulaski Bridge from there to Brooklyn, following the Marathon route backwards to see a friend who lives in Greenpoint. Finally I went home via the Williamsburg Bridge, Downtown Manhattan and Central Park. The following day I went to see another friend who lives in Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), also in Brooklyn, and went over the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges so I ended up going over almost all of the (cyclable) bridges connecting the island of Manhattan to the surrounding islands. I even had time to pop into the office in 53rd Street on the way back. In all my travels I have to say I saw no lingering evidence of there having been a storm (not counting the skate being off the menu in a restaurant we went to) but I didn't go to the worst affected areas like Staten Island or New Jersey. I also didn't see any evidence of BikeSnob who is undisputedly the most famous two-wheeled resident of Brooklyn although he did post this the same day that I cycled along parts of the very same route.

I had to fly back on Tuesday night and, just as the important news of the Marathon cancellation broke while we were in mid-flight, the first thing I heard on arrival as people's cellphones (mobile phones) beeped back to life was the result of the Presidential elections. It was tough having to go straight back to work (after a quick shower) and I had to have a half hour power nap in the car at lunchtime because I literally could not keep my eyes open. With all the faffing about on the plane (is this lunch, breakfast or dinner?), I only got about four hours of fairly uncomfortable sleep: I much prefer flying in the opposite direction where the trick is to stay awake most of the time watching movies.

The rest of the week's training consisted of running mostly at Marathon pace. I had the nice surprise of discovering that Friday was actually a bank holiday only the day before. I finished off the week with a 90 minute run, the second half of which I ran at Marathon pace (that is to say, at 163 bpm). I have to say, the run was slightly disappointing as I started off at around 15 kph, just as I had done in the Half Marathon I did only two weeks ago, but found the pace unsustainable (at that heart rate) on the way back. I suppose that it was a combination of accumulated tiredness and a bit of a headwind but it wasn't quite the "high" I'd started the week of the New York Marathon with. Still, there's no reason to believe that my fitness has somehow deteriorated in the last couple of weeks and, even though the Half Marathon I ran at Marathon pace was spectacular, I was aware at the time that it was unlikely that I would be able to run the full Marathon at that pace and that heart rate. So anything is still possible for Valencia Marathon this Sunday...

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