Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I've been on holiday in Asturias where we spent Christmas. It was so windy that there was a cyclone warning with gusts of up to 150 kph predicted: in the end, it wasn't so extreme and the weather was actually especially nice for Asturias in winter. Santa Claus (a.k.a. my wife) very kindly gave me a GoPro Hero3 (Silver Edition) camera. My idea is to use it to record some of the runs and cycle rides I do so that I can play them back when I am running on the treadmill or riding on the turbo trainer. Here is an excerpt form my first recording, done without any special support for the camera (i.e., handheld).

It will be a welcome edition now that I am running out of TV series to watch while training. I associate each major race I have trained for with a particular series: for example, Seville 2012 was watching The Wire, New York 2013 was Game of Thrones and, more recently, Aranjuez was Homeland.

I've enjoyed a real break both from work, from training and from watching what I eat (and drink). Although I have been out running a few times, it has only been if I have felt like it and it hasn't interfered with the family's plans. Also I went very much off the beaten track and found some trails I had never run before (although they became so fraught with brambles and mud that I could only go so far).

Tonight is not only New Year's Eve but it is also the occasion of the San Silvestre Vallecana 10K race that runs through the streets of Madrid. It may not have the glamour of the New York City Marathon but it isn't too far behind: 40,000 runners (versus 50,000 in New York) and a great party atmosphere. It is also a point to point course with the difference being that the finish (as opposed to the start) is out of town. I'll be running with my wife (she is already making excuses not to run) dressed as.... well, you'll have to tune in tomorrow to see what my costume is this year. It's worth it, I promise!

This is also a time for reflection and, as this is ostensibly a blog about endurance racing and training, I'll limit my musings to that sphere. For 2013 I continued as a "self-trained athlete" applying ideas from my previous coach, from books I'd read and from personal experience. And, to be honest, apart from a disappointing Half Ironman in which the dreaded cramps came back from their grave to haunt me, I am very pleased with my progress. I shaved more than 30 seconds off my Half Marathon time, almost a minute off my 10K time and 8 minutes(!) off my Marathon time. My training went pretty much exactly to plan with no injuries (touch wood!) and no illness (although, as luck would have it, I got my first cold the whole year in the last few days of the year). Even in "failure" (the Half Ironman in Lisbon) I was pleased with the way I was able to take it in my stride and see it as an experience from which I could learn. I don't see myself doing any triathlons in 2014 but I would like to get back on the bike in the summer and perhaps I can find a way to do a Time Trial even if it means taking my bike to the UK (as there are no TT races that I know of in Spain for amateurs). Instead, my goals for 2014 will be to break 1:19 in the Half Marathon (I just need to find three seconds) and to get a best time for 10K in London (a flat course at sea level in hopefully cool conditions).

So, until 2014, I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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