Cava makes you run faster, it’s official

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Last day of May, day 151 and today was a special one. Running in the solidarity/charity race for rare diseases for the Barcelona children’s hospital Sant Joan de Deu, along with more than 700 fellow Sitgetans.

Strange preparation for this yesterday with a heavy cava session in the afternoon, probably the best part was that we didn’t fancy a beer later on. And those grapes are full of vitamin C right?

The run was at 10 and the day already pretty hot. I’d decided during the week that it would be a good opportunity for another personal best, and so it turned out to be.

Out from the Jardines del Terramar, along the paseo to Fragata beach and back. I set off far too fast but managed to rein it in a bit and use the other runners when I needed a bit of a drag along.

Sarah also did a good time of 27:24 (for the whole run which was about 5.2km, so a great effort from her). I let myself slow down a little for the last part back through the park as it was the 5k time that I wanted.

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We met up with Xus and Remi (fellow Agnes parents) – it was Remi’s first organized run so well done to her.

Very hard going that fast, I don’t know if I have a sub-20 minute 5k in me!

5km, 21:09.

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Bilbao Blades

Lots going on down the paseo this morning, apart from a slightly insane dude doing his 150th straight 5+ km run of the year.

First thing I saw looked like a group mugging, about 20 people on the grass with their hands in the air.  Further inspection showed their gym clothes and towels and the slight lady taking them through some callisthenics or tai-chi moves.

Just after them I had to restrain myself from singing “na na na na, he’s a Blade and he’s a Blade” on seeing a red-and-white striped footy shirt just ahead.  Saw a few more during the run; it’s the final of the Copa del Rey this evening between Barça and Athletic Bilbao (the red-and-white Basques), and the sensible travelling fans are spending the day soaking up some Sitges serenity before the insanity (and let’s face it) humiliation to come (famous last words).

More news from the Paseo – it looks like the beach just after Sausolito (around there anyway) is being renewed – big dredging-type tanker-type ship just offshore and the beach is all dark with new, wet sand.  Some of the Sitges beaches are only a few metres wide at high tide so it’s good to see them getting raised up a bit before the vast influx of summer sunseekers hit town.

Apart from that the only other news was that the run was good, I kept up the pace despite having a head full of mucus (actually I found quite a bit of it on my running shirt when I got back – I know, TMI).

I now have about minus five minutes to get ready and join in with the family logistics – pick up son from fencing, take him swimming, etc.  There’s no castellers this afternoon (sadly but nice to have a rest) as they’re travelling to Algemesí near Valencia this morning for a performance with the muixerangas this evening.

5km, 23:17.

Rinse before use

Life is all about learning little lessons.  As a parent you try to pass this wisdom on verbally to your children, and yet some Darwinian quirk decrees that the most important lessons are only learned through bloody-nosed or at least red-faced experience.  The internet is full of amusing lists of aphorisms whose secondary purpose is to trigger a small thrill of memory that leads to that warm human-love feeling that despite geographical differences, we’re all pretty much the same and make or have made the same mistakes.  (The primary purpose of course is to get you to click the “Like” button.)

Today’s little lesson learned is “if the plastic water bottle has been in the cupboard since last September, don’t just fill it with water and expect fresh, mountain-dew tasting aqua vitae when you take a big gulp to cool you down during the run.  It’s going to taste of stale plastic mixed with stale washing liquid.”  Bleaugh.  Like a good boy I didn’t swallow.

I was hoping to run intervals again this morning and even had half a banana to give me an energy boost, but my legs were ww – ee – aa – rr – yy after yesterday evening’s Dolce trip and I struggled to get the pace down to 5m/km.  Fortunately the scenery made up for it – a drop-dead gorgeous day on the paseo.  Especially running back from the patos, with the sun glistening on the hardly-moving water and Sitges still snuggled under her misty duvet.

5km, 26:03.

Skipping the bar

It felt weird today to not go and run early, but I’d agreed with Sarah that I would go with her this evening as she hadn’t been for a week or two and we have a charity run along the paseo on Sunday for rare diseases research at St Joan de Déu so she wanted to go before doing that.

Always nice to have company on what has been a pretty solitary and (see yesterday) occasionally mentally surreal few months’ running.

So we set off at 7pm and did an 8km Dolce route, no rush and not pushing it too much, really just wanted Sarah to get back into it a bit and it’s a strenuous enough route I think to not have to be a hero about it.  It was slow for her but she’ll use it as a starting point for the Great North Run training to come.  I’m lucky in that I get to train in Amsterdam too, where it’s always cool in the evenings and early morning, except in those rare super-sweaty summer days.  Here in Sitges, once July and August come, it’s stifling even if you’re out at midnight (not that I’ve been out running at midnight, this is even if you’re out for a few beers at midnight!).

C/Vilanova to the Masia, into the Vinyet past the top of the Jardins del Terramar, through past the golf course and under the tracks, up on the road to the Dolce, past the hut, hotel and round the back (up and up and up) and returning the same way.  Always nice to go to the Dolce with Sarah on a Thursday evening, though I have to say I prefer the driving-up-for-a-glass-of-cava version.

8km, 46:26.

Cliff Thorburn

Bizarre memories come to you when you’re running.  A random thought or realization leads to others and because you don’t actually have anything else to do but stick one foot after another on the road, the mind is free to wander as randomly as you want to let it.

I was transported back to Easter Monday 1980 today and remembering writing some homework for school – it would be in my last year at “little school” – a project to write out what happened in the TV epic Jesus Of Nazareth (Robert Powell, who could forget).  I think I must have missed one of the parts (almost certainly watching the snooker instead) and, no doubt seeing me traumatised by the possibility that they may have deviated somehow from the standard plot, my lovely dad went out and bought me the book of the film.  Turned out to be a double edged sword this as instead of being able to just write a quick page of notes from what I (hadn’t) watched, I ended up writing out huge chunks of the book pretty much verbatim.

While deep in this task at the dining room table and trying to keep one ear on the snooker final (played out at our Crucible Theatre of course) on the telly in the living room, the SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy, which obviously meant absolutely nothing to an 11 year old with pencil sharpenings all over his trousers.

Five years later I ended up missing the snooker final altogether thanks to being probably one of the first casualties of the Sony Walkman; getting run over while sauntering across Crookes Road with my orange newspaper bag flapping at my knees and That Petrol Emotion’s Natural Kind of Joy blaring in my ears.  A few bruises and a couple of days in the Hallamshire for my troubles, and no doubt a very annoyed driver with a smashed windscreen (got strong elbows me) cursing that he came round the bend from Broomhill at that speed.

Anyway, Cliff Thorburn, first maximum break at the Crucible, day 147.

Talking of speed (the car that hit me, definitely not Cliff), I really tried to keep the pace at about 4:35 once I got to the Paseo (totally standard route, not even going to mention it).  Absolutely stunning day – not too warm, brighter than Einstein and the sea just that colour of “mmmmm” that makes you want to go and dive in.

5km, 23:47.

Something a bit more piratey

Straight out when the family left today, another lovely one with just the start of that summer heat that I mentioned the other day.  Saps your energy and makes every step just that bit more effort.  Also I think I was feeling the effects of the intervals from yesterday, legs are very tired as I think that (due to the knee injury mainly) I haven’t been pushing it lately so any return to speed takes a while to get used to.  However, says Mr Pragmatic here on my other shoulder, the aim is to get through the whole year, not go out half way through in a blaze of glory.  Something something marathon something sprint?

Over to the Av Sofia roundabout and down to the Calipolis with a quick stop at the ATM,  past the group of school kids out for a very early beach volleyball session and a new pirate-themed (why? / why not?) crazy-golf at Fragata.  Along to the mermaid for a slap, back towards the Terramar and into the Vinyet, out onto C/Vilanova at La Masia and along to the roundabout again and home.

5,05km, 26:14.

Intervals? Ha, very whitty.

Crazy lovely day full of children yesterday, beach (nobody got burned, yay, there’s hope for us yet) and sleepovers all went fine even though it was a schoolnight.

There was no rush for me to go out and get the run out of the way today and anyway was too busy feeding the five thousand (ok, four) this morning to worry about getting my running stuff on.  The last of the Dutch public holidays until Christmas (pinksteren, pentecost, whit, blah, whatever), so nobody in the office, no meetings to miss.  Breakfast and coffee and lots of work and eventually had to drag myself away before I got too hungry to run without having lunch.

Had decided that an intervals session was well overdue and that my left knee is recovered enough to try it.  The only doubt was whether it would be just too hot to semi-sprint but actually it was ok.  A beautiful day but not actually scorching yet despite the beach getting busier and busier every day at the moment.  Still not at that oh-my-god-where-did-all-the-air-go stage of the summer.

Times (paces) were as follows (over 500m or so):

  1. 3:46 (min/km)
  2. 3:55
  3. 3:45
  4. 3:59

So not bad but not brilliant, quite happy with the faster two laps though and gave myself a good workout without killing myself into the bargain.  I know that in a few weeks I won’t be able to do intervals at lunchtime as it’ll be Too Damn Hot.

Knee seems to be pretty much totally fine, left achilles pulling a bit but nothing sinister.

5,6km, 28:08.