Friday, October 11, 2013

A change is as good as a rest...

Last Sunday, after the Devils Aquathlon, I had a pull in the hamstring
tendon of my right knee. Nothing major, I had actually been feeling it
for most of the previous week. It would be very sore to touch and a
bit stiff at the start of a run, then it would settle down and not be
any trouble. But with it being a problem I knew I needed to address it
as these things don't sort themselves on their own.

So this week I have not run. Not once. I've been cycling to/from work
and it has been great for my legs. My Achilles and calves have been
incredibly tight most days and my knee a little stiff too. While
running twice a day has been great it has obviously taken a toll on my

As this week has moved on the tenderness in my hamstring tendon has
gone, my calves and Achilles are not sore or stiff and I still feel
pretty strong.

I'm not about to become a cyclist but I will take more rest breaks
during the week and cross train more by using the bike. This break has
been great but I can't wait to get back on the road.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Devils Aquathlon - 6th October 2013

This morning was the Devils Aquathlon, an event at the Sandford Park Lido comprising a 2km swim the 50m pool and then a 10km run up Leckhampton Hill to the Devils Chimney. 

I was nervous before this race. More nervous than any other race I can remember and this was essentially as I was not prepared for the swim. I've swum twice this year, once in the Cheltenham triathlon (500m) and once today in a 2km swim. 

For today I wore a wetsuit, the heating in the pool was turned off last week and so it has been slowly cooling. It actually wasn't that cold and the temperature was quotes as 17c. I was third off in my lane with a 9am start time. As the start time approached I was getting more nervy, fiddling with my goggles and swim cap. Removing and putting on my nose clip. I wish the race had started 5 minutes earlier. 

When I was off everything felt good. The water rushed into my wetsuit and was refreshing, not cold. I settled into a rhythm where I was breathing every 2 and 4 strokes. I only breathe on my left. The two people in my lane pulled ahead and over the swim both would pass me. I really did not care. I had imagined a 40min swim time. I checked my watch at 32 lengths (the mile) and it was 27mins and change. Not fast comparatively but very good for me. I felt confident and  pushed a bit in the final 8 lengths. 

Getting out of the pool at the deep end was interesting. My arms were dead and my knees are not bendy so I just flopped onto the side and dragged myself up. 

Into transition, I couldn't undo my wetsuit, luckily there was a volunteer on hand to give me a hand. Out of the suit, into my socks and trainers, race belt on and off out the front. I opted for my Salomon Mission XR shoes for this as this is a real road to trail type of course. I could see a couple of runners ahead of me and set about trying to catch them. 

Through Cox's meadow I passed a lady that was ahead of me. Then on the way up Sandy Lane I passed another runner. There would be one more that I would get in front of very near to the top. The climb was tough, I ran as much as I could but ended up walking near the top. My Achilles and calves screaming under pressure. Once the trail flattened out I was running again and felt really good. The view across Cheltenham was stunning. The town was laid out with then a thin layer of cloud above which you could see the Malverns and Black Mountains. Down to the Devils Chimney and then back the way we came. 

The descent was even harder. With my knees as they are I am always tentative on downhill. There were lots of runners coming up too which made it tricky. 

As I made my way down there was a noise of footsteps behind me. Gaining quickly a man shouted that he was passing on my left. He flew past me, freewheeling. I tried to keep pace but he was flying. I thought I'd try to catch him once we were back on Tarmac but very quickly realised that was futile too.

Back through Coxs Meadow and the lido. As I entered I took a wrong turn heading back into transition rather than towards the finish line. A quick deviation and I crossed the line. Watch time was 1:30:44.

At the start I had figured that 1:30 would be a good time. It was but with different splits to what I had imagined. I thought I'd be 40/45-48 with a couple mins in transition. As it was the swim was better and the run worse.

Like all the lido events this was organised brilliantly and while the events are competitive they never feel exclusive. 

Will I do it again? Maybe, it will all depend on how the next 12 months go and how much swimming I can do. I would not do it again without committing to that as the main focus of my nerves was that I had let myself down by not preparing properly.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Eat & Run - vegetarian chilli

Tonight, inspired by reading Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, I made
Minnesota Chilli. It was frankly lush and there's a large helping sat
in the freezer for a future cold day.

The recipe and method are in the book and online here:

Ingredients - Serves 8-10
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped onion
8–10 medium mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1 jalapeño pepper or other hot pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato purée
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 15-ounce can red beans, drained
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry bulgur wheat
Hot sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
Tofutti sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Add the oil to a large pot. Sauté the vegetables and spices in the oil
over medium to medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until tender. Add a
few tablespoons of water if the veggies begin sticking to the pot.

Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and simmer over
medium-low heat, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir and simmer for an
additional 20 to 30 minutes until the veggies are cooked through.

Season with salt and, if more spice is desired, hot sauce or cayenne
pepper to taste. Serve sprinked with the coriander.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What I like about ultra runners....

They have beards (well the men mostly do) and they like to drink beer too.

What's not to like?