Day Seventeen: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

I try to avoid conversations on either politics or religion.  My dad told me it was a good idea and he was a pretty clever chap.  Under extreme duress and without any obvious sign of an escape route, I think, I would talk religion but you would have to be holding a large gun to my head.

You see I have a built in security function, an evolutionary bonus, a self-defence mechanism, designed to avoid death by boredom. Several keywords will start the shut down sequence.  The words, democrat, president, vote, voting, ballot, these all work well at initiating the countdown to switch off.  In a similar fashion, Hillary-Clinton, Tony Blair, George Bush, Gordon Brown, these have all worked well in the past.

Yesterday my anti death by boredom self-defence system was fooled by the words ‘Barack Obama’ and I was almost sucked into a discussion about politics when in fact I thought someone was talking about those pills you take to get rid of a hang-over, or when you are feeling a bit flat.  You know, the ones that come in a green plastic tube, full of Vitamin C, B Complex, Ginseng and extract of Tiger Willy or something.

I was feeling a bit dehydrated and tired after a thirty minute run in the hills followed by a full day at the beach.  I could have done with popping a few tablets of Barack Obama into a glass of water for a bit of a lift.

The run was most enjoyable.  I managed to fit it in before picking my friend James up from his hotel downtown and taking him to the beach in Canet de Mar.  I decided to attempt one of the first routes I took when I started running almost three weeks ago.  Heading up to the Cross on the top of the hill behind our apartment.  No great shakes, nothing dramatic, I felt fine and was pleasantly surprised to feel pretty relaxed upon completing it.  I could do another lap, I mused to myself, in the lift coming home.

However after sitting on the beach all day in the hot sun, frolicking in the surf with my kids, swimming out to the yellow buoy with James and walking miles along the sand I was feeling a bit jaded, a little bit flat.

I wonder if you can buy Barack Obama pills in a supermarket here in Barcelona?

I did a search on the web and did not find out the answer. I did however find out what happens if you feed them to fish.  Far more entertaining than politics.

Day Sixteen: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

Yesterday turned out to be a much needed rest day for me.  I interrupted the day with a swim at the beach, a 200m effort carried out at a relaxed steady pace – easily enforced by the poor visibility in the water and my wish to avoid swimming straight into one of the purple jellyfish, which have returned in even greater numbers.

The beach was busy.  I sat on my towel afterwards and looked around.  To my right was a walrus.  He was a huge dark skinned chap. He wore a pair of sunglasses that made him look like Freddy Mercury.  Shiny rimmed, with super dark lenses.  He looked scary.  His old school Speedo trunks did not help.  What is it with older guys in Speedos? Back in the 80’s it was OK for a thirteen-year old boy to wear them.  Now they should be sold exclusively to Olympic swimmers, not to the general public.

Behind me were three bronzed, ladies, covered in tattoos. They all seemed to be of the same design.  Now that is strange.  I would have thought the point of having a tattoo is to add something unique, something bespoke, about adding something truly original? So why get the same one your mates have?  Why copy their drawing of a nymph on a leaf and plaster it across your stomach? What if you fall out with each other? You will spend the remainder of your days, waking up every morning, looking down at your belly, seeing that nymph on a leaf that Brook, or Maria, or Shelly convinced you was cool, which in fact, is on a par with a Speedo wearing walrus.

To get off the subject of fat men in Speedos and bad taste tattoos, here is a summary of the last week, in terms of work-outs.

  • Day 7        3 ½ hour bike ride
  • Day 8        2 hour bike ride
  • Day 9        Active recovery day, swim & snorkel
  • Day 10      40 minute run
  • Day  11     45 minute run
  • Day 12      1:10 min recovery ride
  • Day 13      3 hour 25 min bike ride, 4 x 20 min climbs
  • Day 14      1 ½ hour bike ride

Next week will be interesting, I will have to do some research on a putting together a more structured programme with regards to running, if I am to complete an off road half marathon at the end of October.

Until then…..a little bit of Freddy Mercury.

Day Fifteen: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

I woke up yesterday morning and felt fine.  I did not feel odd in anyway whatsoever.  I had a large bowl of Weetabix, with a sprinkling of raisins and a generous helping of skimmed milk.  Like a young child, I watched miniature rivers form in the slowly softening Weetabix, my eyes transfixed on the numerous tiny waterfalls. Mesmerized as they cascaded down from the highest reaches of my cereal mountain, running eventually into the milky sea below.

Had I been a seer or prophet that could foretell the future I would have eaten another three bowls, a loaf of bread and a large plate of pasta.  But I did not.  I felt fine.  All was good in my world and I thought I was about to start another normal day.

I wonder if, Lord Horatio Nelson woke up the day he lost his eye feeling all was well in his world? Did JFK down his morning cup of coffee thinking another regular day was about to start, looking forward to a drive in his presidential motorcade along with his lovely wife Jacqueline and the governor from Texas, John Connally? What about Lord Vader? As he sat in the staff canteen, tucking into his Penne all’Arrabiata, did he think the Death Star was going to go ‘Boom’ later on?

I am not sure but I reckon they all thought nothing was out of the ordinary that all was well and that life was jolly normal.

Before you start wondering, I did not lose an eye.  Nor was I shot whilst riding in a limo. All that happened was that I ran out of food and ‘died’ on my bike ride. It was however a truly massive, spectacular ‘legs fell off turned to mush, body gave up, had tunnel vision, head was pounding, pins and needles in the legs, metallic taste in the mouth’, a Death Star explosion kind of died. Not a great ride then.

I think you need to make a good old rookie mistake every now and then. It keeps you on your feet, keeps it real.  My mistake was to only eat salad for dinner the previous night, without any pasta, rice or indeed any carbohydrate whatsoever.  To top it all off I did not refuel properly after my long ride the day before. I missed the crucial window of opportunity, whereby glycogen stores are replenished quickly, through the intake of carbohydrate. I should have had some carbohydrates within an hour of finishing the ride, ideally with a high Glycemic Index, but I didn’t.

In essence I gave in to my taste buds that were crying out for salt, and sugar, I filled myself up on the wrong stuff and when it came to eat the right stuff, I didn’t.  It is as simple as that.

So when I set off yesterday on my ride I did so with my tank already on reserve.

When I am in my car I am terrible when it comes to driving on reserve.  Perhaps it is a male thing? I will drive until the needle is bent around ‘Empty’, the fuel pump is pinging away, trying in vain to suck up fuel, and then I will still drive past the petrol station and try to make it to the next one, three miles away. Uphill. In my defence, I have never run out of fuel in a car. Not yet.

My record is not quite so squeaky clean when it comes to cycling.

I only cycled about 50KM, nothing really in the grand scheme of things but it was fairly horrendous.

I arrived home, in a nasty mood, annoyed at myself for being such an idiot.  I sat down and ate.  Then I ate again.  For dinner I had pasta.  Three massive bowls.  I squashed the voice inside me that said “hey dude that is way too much pasta, you’ll turn into a blimp” and ate another bowl. Then I had another one just to spite him.

Eat well my fellow cyclists.  By all means build those Weetabix mountains the size of the Himalaya, but make sure you eat well the night before as well or you will pay the price.

I leave you with Lord Vader and his Penne All’Arrabiata courtesy of Eddie Izzard and YouTube.

Day Fourteen: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

We are all waiting for Jesus to arrive.  He gets back from his trip to Austria on Saturday and will swing by to collect his ferret.  It smells.  No really, it stinks.  The girls washed it.  Twice.  They went so far as to spray an entire room in perfume but the smell of the ferret remains.  He is now banished from the house and is sleeping on the balcony.

There are a lot of websites dedicated to ferrets.  Several of these web sites refer to the fact that young male ferrets are ‘extremely musky’ unless neutered.  It is funny as the word  ‘Musk’ has positive connotations, if you remember the fragrance marketed by Lynx.

I had a quick look at the Unilever website, the people behind Lynx and here is what they say:

With a brand mission to give consumers the edge in the mating game Lynx has continually evolved to develop fragrances that bring guys closer to their ultimate girl. Working closely with the Lynx Institute of Attractiveness, the ‘Nose’ and Lynx perfumiers have developed pulling-inspired fragrances including Lynx Vice which is packed with high levels of exotic fruits, designed to turn unsuspecting nice girls naughty.

Guys, here is a tip:  Unless you want to smell like a young male ferret, go steady on the Musk.  You may find yourself banished to the balcony.

Which brings me to my ride yesterday.

I set off at a quarter to one in the afternoon.

I was feeling pretty good when I set off,  right up until I hit the slopes of  the first of the four climbs that lay in store on the route.  I settled into a steady rhythm, confident that I would feel better as the climb went on.  I was starting to enjoy the ride as I climbed the ridge, looking down at the houses below, watching the kids play in the bright blue swimming pools of the larger, more expensive villas.

One of the houses was built on the steep slopes of the hillside, the rooftop just a few metres below the level of the road.  A large, wide balcony ran the entire length of the modern looking house.  To my amazement, a guy was perched on a bike, sitting on a turbo trainer, sweat soaking into a bright yellow towel draped over his handle bars.

I wondered what in the name of God he had done to deserve such punishment? What crime had he committed that justified such a harsh sentence? I could perhaps understand his intentions if it was raining, cold and miserable.  If the icy roads were noisy with the thunder of traffic and it was dark outside.

The sun was shining.  It was so quiet I could hear my own hair growing.  I could smell the fresh pine trees.  The sky was a bright blue, interrupted only by a few cartoon like clouds.

I rode on and thought about the mad man for a while before I was forced to concentrate on the technical descent that followed.

My route took me out along the valley road to Valldoriolf, before heading back around to La Roca de Valles, then up a long, drag of a climb back over the ridge to the ‘El Maresme’ side (beach side).  Another lovely sweeping descent where I touched 75kmh before I turned off and joined a smaller, rougher surfaced road that climbs up the BV-5106 to the rather quaint village of Orrius.  Another fast, somewhat dangerous descent and then I was back in the valley again.  The hot, undulating road back to the base of the last climb was fun, there was very little traffic and I spotted a couple of other cyclists out training.  I got chatting to two young guys, dressed head to foot in Team Slipstream clothing.  They worked in a local bike shop and were out for a spin.  One of them was riding the new KTM carbon road bike, which I suppose looked quite pretty, complete with integrated carbon seat-post and snazzy graphics. Not my cup of tea though.

I heard via the message system on FaceBook that my buddy James was not able to collect my road bike in time for his flight, which means I am stuck with riding my wife’s bike until I can sort out an alternative plan.  A bit disappointing but hey, life goes on,  To cheer myself up I am going to enter an off-road run in late October.  I have not decided which distance to do yet.  On offer is a full distance off-road marathon, which would be madness.  A half marathon (which I am tempted by) and a 10K event, which would make the most sense.

Here is a link to the site.  Check out the turn by turn directions included in the PowerPoint presentation.  The Cursa de Sant Jaume route looks really pretty. What do you think, 10KM or 22KM ? Hmmm….

I leave you with a YouTube video.

Day Thirteen: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

It is funny how after a while things that not so long ago would have shocked you, stopping you dead in your tracks are now accepted as the norm, filtered out and hardly given any attention all.  It is the difference between being a tourist and being a local.

You see tourists are on the look out for the unusual.  ‘Unusual’ for them is anything different from the norm at home. It is not commonplace to see two naked gay men, bronzed bodies straight out of Attitude magazine, covered only in silver body piercings and tattoos, oiling each other on a bench in a park in Aldershot.  I smiled as I watched a large, sunburnt tourist, his dangerously exposed belly, the colour of lard, sneak a few camera phone shots of the two exhibitionists as I cycled past.  I wondered who looked more out of place, the gay dudes or Mr. Crisco in his red Crocs and straw hat.

My recovery ride yesterday took me along a superb urban cycle route.  It is the continuation of the path that I often run along, albeit further up the coast. It winds its way along the beachfront, towards the Olympic Port in Barcelona, past the huge mega yachts, continuing on to the beaches of Barceloneta, where tourists from Aldershot seeking homoerotic pictures can take their holiday snaps.

My ride was a ‘recovery ride’.  This is a low intensity ride, used to spin the legs out after a hard session.  I spent the time listening to music and focussing on staying hydrated.  I drank a 750ml bottle of water during eighty minutes of twiddling a 39×16 gear.

I have noticed, now almost two weeks into this ‘Eduardo’s Road To Fitness’ a change in appetite.  Not so much an increased appetite but a desire to eat different types of meals.  Before I started training I could quite easily have eaten a full English breakfast first thing in the morning. Well OK, I couldn’t eat that every morning but it wouldn’t have been out of the question to have consumed it.

Today however, the thought of a full English would have made me ill.  Instead I woke up and munched a huge piece of bread with some boiled eggs mashed into it.  No butter, no olive oil, just carbohydrate, protein and a smidge of fat (the egg yolks).  I finished off by devouring a banana and drinking a glass of fresh orange juice.  It looked so healthy I took a photo of it before I ate it.

Much healthier than a full English fry up.

Much healthier than a full English fry up.

Fresh vegetables and fish seem to be making a comeback in the food cravings department whilst red meat and wine seems to be fading into the past.

I have a long hard ride planed for today.  A new route involving four different twenty minute climbs, spaced about half an hour apart from each other, connected by undulating roads.  I feel good today and am confident I will be able to complete it without exploding mid route.
All that remains to be done is to figure out a new playlist for my iPod and then I am off into the baking heat.

Which leaves me wondering how badly burnt Mr. Crisco is today and how his photos came out.

Day Twelve: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

Anyone old enough to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster will remember the expression ‘No Pain, No Gain’. It was a motto that Jane Fonda used back in the early 80’s in her series of work out videos.  The catch-phrase was then adopted by bodybuilders who believed that in order to develop larger muscles one had to endure pain first, that if you did not hurt after a work out you would not progress.

Jane Fonda may well have been reading old school poetry when she coined the phrase.  Back in 1650 a British poet, by the name of Robert Herrick, published a collection of poems called Hesperides, where he wrote:

NO PAINS, NO GAINS.
If little labour, little are our gains:
Man’s fortunes are according to his pains.

–    Hesperides 752

Yesterday I experienced the ‘pain’ during my longest run so far.  At forty five minutes it is hardly worth boasting about.  The pain was a result of pushing myself.  On the way out along the beach path, after about five minutes of running, I became aware of two other guys running about ten metres behind me.  My competitive streak raised its head and I increased my pace.  A voice in my head warned me that I would pay later for my efforts but I ignored it.  I slowly pulled away from the two other runners.

As I neared the beach in Montgat Nord I spotted another lone runner up ahead.  Again I increased the pace and the distance between the two of us began to shrink. It took almost ten minutes for me to catch him.  Annoyingly, just as I drew close he stopped running and looked at his watch on his wrist.  I slowed down and settled back into a more sensible pace.

It was too late. I had squandered my energy, used up some precious reserves.  I paid for it later on. The last ten minutes of my run were run on will power alone.  My legs were dead. I felt clumsy and had to concentrate hard on each step as I negotiated the uneven surface of the final off-road section of the run. I cursed myself for pushing too hard on the way out.

This morning my legs ache.  I can feel the cumulative effects of the last two days.  The run on Sunday followed by me emptying the tank yesterday have taken its toll.

I hope, that as Robert and Jane propose, I will now benefit and be justly rewarded with a hard earned gain.

I think a gentle spin on the bike is called for today, to loosen up my legs.

I leave you with Jane Fonda, courtesy of YouTube 🙂

Day Eleven: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

I remember watching a film in a motel a while back.  It was in a nameless motel. All I can tell you is that it was about twenty minutes ride in a freezing transfer coach from the airport. I had, through no fault of my own, been persuaded that another drink in the Irish Pub at Amsterdam Schiphol airport was fine and that there was no way we would miss our connecting flight to Barcelona.

As his flight from London arrived some forty minutes before mine, my friend, who, for reasons of national security, shall remain nameless, had already found the departure gate, which was but a short stagger away from the pub. We enjoyed the Guinness, feeling comfortable and happy to be on holiday, confident that we could casually saunter to the gate in due course.

What we didn’t realize is that access to the gate was from the level above the one we were on.  Reaching the gate actually involved a hundred kilometre run through the airport complex, via the cleaners room on deck 65 and the duty free shop on deck nine zillion and finally via security on level 1.

We missed the flight with clockwork precision.  My nameless friend cancelled his holiday on the spot and caught a flight back to London leaving me with about fifteen hours to kill.

The sheets in my motel room were made of a material that produced electric shocks.  The mini bar was full of rust and the entire bathroom smelt like an old pair of Wellington boots filled with onions.

The movie was about a guy that wakes up to find that he is the last person alive on the planet.  Through some wicked twist of fate he has managed to avoid whatever it was that killed every other human being, leaving him to wander around spooky cities and towns trying to find out what is going on.  I remember wondering how on earth they managed to film the movie, the incredible planning and logistics required to clear vast tracks of a capital city.

What I didn’t realize is that Barcelona on a Sunday morning in August is already devoid of any human life. Filming would be easy.

By ten o’clock on a Sunday morning everyone in Barcelona has returned home from an all night bender and is now tucked up in bed, or are in a quaint village retreat up in the mountains, probably also in bed after an all night bender, or are in a modern holiday flat up the coast, sleeping in bed after an all night bender.

The streets are silent.  Newspapers drift along the pavements.  It is quiet.  There are no cars.  The traffic lights cycle from green to red and back again, their function wasted.

I am running.  I am alone and I have survived the holocaust.

I ran for just under forty minutes yesterday and saw no other survivors. I felt good and enjoyed the run more than any other I have done since I took up the sport again.  I feel as if I have progressed to the next level in terms of run fitness.  I will probably plateau for while and stay at this point before clicking up again to the next level.  The same happens in my cycle training.  You shift up a level and enjoy the change, then stay at the new level for a while before moving up again.

Today I shall do another steady beach run, heading out to El Masnou before turning back and running along the sand to Montgat.  I have a new playlist that I shall try out today, timed so that the more upbeat tracks start as I begin the beach run section.  I suspect it will be busy today, the scene from a different movie from that of Sunday.

I can’t wait to get my road bike.  The very thought of riding it puts a smile on my face.  I shall think about my cycle routes and training whilst I run today, or is that a bit like meal planning whilst still eating?