Times like these

A triple blog in three parts. 

May and June, generically. 

This week (but not today).

Today’s 5km race.

May and June, generically.

61 days ago we set sail on this journey. I have tried my best to set up a routine and rhythm to keep up the good work I had put in earlier this year and so far it seems to be going well. The opportunity to eat lots of food doesn’t help but regular training is keeping the weight off and I feel fitter. 

My last 8 weeks of training look like this: 

Week Commencing Run Ride 

3 May 50.8km 45.6km 

10 May 50.4km 66.8km 

17 May 16.5km 35.6km 

24 May 51.7km 24.9km 

31 May 46.9km 28.0km 

7 Jun 53km 127.3km (port visit) 

14 Jun 23.1km 30km 

21 Jun 58.9km 64.4km 

Not bad considering most of the period was spent working 8 hours on/off. 

As we have progressed south and east it has got hotter and running on the treadmill is not the most pleasant experience but to quote the Ultra Mindset book “it’s all good mental training”. My hands will be clammy, I drink a litre of water per hour, my sweaty gym towel is soaked and I am generally uncomfortable. I hope that when it gets cooler I’ll feel the benefit of the warm weather training. I have managed a three 90 minute sessions of which two were on the dreadmill. I always ‘accidently’ managed to stop the treadmill after 30 minutes and restarted to make it look like I’m not hogging it! Even though there’s nearly always a spare at the times I go, I have got to get my fix and can’t risk being thrown off! 

Running outdoors and off road in Sicily was nice but it was warm and I also gained some blisters which are taking time to heal. The best bit about that stop was climbing Etna, well up to the café at 1900m. The top is 3300m but not suitable for road bikes. I set myself a challenge of 90 minutes for the 18km/1200m ascent at about 6.5%. After 15km and 700m of warm up climbing from sea-level (stop for cake and coffee) there was a picture of Contador climbing by the water fountain at the bottom of the climb marking the HC climb. After a loop round to ensure I clocked the segment properly I left my riding companions to enjoy their climb. Meanwhile, I entered the hurt locker. After 20 minutes I realised I’d over excited myself and calmed down. Then it started raining with thunder and lightning. Soaked, the last 30 minutes were a battle of maths and pedals as I tried to work out if I was on track to break 90 minutes. I was getting cold but thought it was pointless to stop to put wet arm warmers and a light pertex wind stopper as they were soaked. I pushed on and over the top in 1 hour 27 minutes. Very pleased. I then ate lots of great food and had some Italian coffee to warm up while I waited 30 mins for my mates. 

The descent was sketchy. Volcanic dust and ash from recent eruptions littered the road. There was no way round. We took it carefully and made it down safely. Back in Catania we dodged the Italian driving and bounced over rock hard volcanic cobbles. A great day. 

On the first night in port we all got out for a meal and a social 30km ride. The only point of note was that as I descended I heard the hiss, hiss, hiss of a puncture. I stopped and then saw foaming as the tubeless sealant did its magic. I didn’t know how it worked, had never topped it up since buying second hand so thought I needed to ride on and get to the restaurant only a km away a the bottom of the hill. A few hundred metres later the hissing stopped. Tyre sealed. Job done. I then rode Etna the next day! Tubeless is magic. 

This week (but not today).

A very productive week marking the end of another 4-5 week cycle. Recovery next week. My blister hasn’t fully healed, still convinced there’s something in my foot. I’ll get it sorted next week. 

I got straight out on my bike on Wed night after work. As it was with a strong rider I turned it into a training session and we rode at hard aerobic, low tempo pace (sweet spot?) and just enjoyed it. After too much food we wobbled the 28km back. A good start. 56km.

The next day I was at the beach and ran easy for an hour in the 9 AM heat before some light swimming and paddle boarding (or swimming with a paddle board). 

Friday, I was out early to climb Mount Olympus. It felt harder than Etna. After 30km lead-in with 500m of climbing we stopped at a cafe in Triminklini – great cafe blasting out classic anthems. Soundtrack to the ride – faithless, gigi hadid how deep is your love, amongst others. Despite starting early, it probably could have been earlier in hindsight. It immediately felt hot. Start ramps were brutal 10%+. It then got very hot. Then hotter and trees thinned. Passing the hotel New Helvética (Helvetia I think) the road signs to Troodos went from 8km to 10km! FMSL. The unrelenting 10% slopes meant 6% felt flat! 

At Troodos I stopped for water and topped up before tackling the final ramps to the radar station at the top. I descended to Troodos and saw the next rider of the group  on their way up and found out the our other party had bailed. A spot of lunch then the super descent. 

I had a random issue with a puncture not sealing, I tried to put more air but that made it worse. It did stop but I was very nervous and did a final check after the steep descent and before the 30km ride back to town across the deserted baking countryside. It felt like I was racing the puncture so put the hammer down to try to get across the barren, busy road works section and back to town. I had tubes but I think fitting them requires the tyre to be clean inside otherwise they’ll puncture. So I rode on. Wishing, hoping and praying the tyre would seal and the air would stay inside. It did! With 2km to go, on the drops, charging down the Main Street I felt the unmistakable wet spray of sealant covering my legs. I shouted at the tyre and it stopped! Very glad to get back. 100km+, 2000m climb and no punctures (sort of)! My buddy had three the following day.

I rested on Saturday and enjoyed having nothing to get up for. 

Today’s 5km race.

Today I ran my first 5km race (not a race, not a Parkrun, but it is a race) in who knows how long. I have done really well this week at getting my kit ready early and being ready to go in the morning. So when I woke up at 0400 and I didn’t want to miss my alarm I had no excuses, leaping from the top bunk at 0455 and avoiding waking by cabin mate. I changed and headed out into the predawn. It was humid and the temperature was in the mid-twenties. I ran laps on the jetty before the coach was due. 9km of laps. It was my warm up. 

Arriving in Paphos 45 minutes later, I ran a further 3km really easy, a few strides and a bit of race pace. I had decided I’d target 4min/km and aim for sub 20 with a back up goal of sun 21. Tough not knowing where I was. I started steady and was into a good rhythm moving past a runner who had over cooked it. The route heads along the coastal boardwalk. Into a headwind. For all that this is normally a bad thing at 2.5km things were about to get worse! We turned around to head back whence we came and the wind died. It didn’t feel like a tailwind – it was exactly a zero relative speed. It felt like I was running in a sauna. I counted down the kilometres, minutes, metres and seconds to finish in 19:46. https://www.paphosrunningclub.org/index.php/paphos-park-run/paphos-park-run-results

A very pleasing result in hot conditions. Nice to get a time on the board. Once I’d recovered I checked the heat calculators and marathon predictions. Work to do. Not impossible. Work to do. 

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