Day Forty Three: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

At present I have just over two euros in my pocket.  I know it is there because I decided to count my change whilst I watched the American Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson beg for seven hundred billion dollars.  That is a lot of money.  You could buy quite a few Large Hadron Colliders. You could even buy a spare one to use whilst the guys in Switzerland fix the one they broke this week and still have enough change left over to have purchased Lehman Brothers.

You could on the other hand take advantage of the low price of wine at the Carrefour supermarket around the corner and buy a fine 2004 Rioja for under three euros a bottle. The economy is certainly pretty messed up.

I am sitting here eating kimchi.  I wrote yesterday that I would try some different types of food and, true to my word, I purchased some horrible cuts of meat from the supermarket after being unable to cater to my wife’s request to find any fish that did not taste of fish.

Little did I know that a day later I would be eating Korean food.  It is not quite what I had in mind, thinking that being in Barcelona I would be focussing on traditional food from the region, but kimchi it is, and it is delicious.

A grandmother prepared it.  Everyone knows that grandmothers make the best home cooking.  Food cooked by grandmothers always tastes better than that of their daughters.  Fact.  No dispute. It simply tastes better in the same way sandwiches cut into triangles taste better than those that are simply cut in half.  The old (she looks old) Korean lady is the grandmother of one of the international students that attend the same school as my girls.  Somehow, along the way, the grandmother found out that I liked food that is highly spiced.  She presented me with a large bag of bright red kimchi, carefully wrapped in plastic and tucked into an old carton of, what appears to be, brown sugar.

Having grown up in SE Asia, Hong Kong to be precise, I have been fortunate enough to have experimented with numerous dishes, from all over Asia.  As it happens Korean food has always ranked way up there in my list of favourites.

Back when I was racing my bicycle full time, I used to treat myself to a Korean BBQ every now and then. The restaurant of choice was located in the once sleepy fishing village of Sai Kung, in Hong Kong. A rather incongruous place for a Korean restaurant but one that had a loyal Korean following.

The restaurant was small and was arranged around booths, with a table in the middle that contained a gas fired BBQ grill.  Customers sat on benches either side of the table.  Small demure Korean girls brought out raw meats, fish and random vegetables to your table, along with copious amount of beer.  This was good. You were then given two sets of chopsticks.  This was confusing.

A wooden pair was meant to be used for attempting to deliver the raw meat to the grill without dropping it in your beer en route, and for turning over the meat whilst it was cooking.  The smaller plastic pair of chopsticks was used to eat with. The general idea was not to mix the two pairs up as you would (a) burn your lips on the hot wooden chopsticks or (b) melt the plastic ones on the grill. It was a mathematical certainty that with enough beer inside you both ‘a’ and ‘b’ would take place.

Bright red, hot and full of flavour.  Kimchi is a superb cold killer.

Bright red, hot and full of flavour. Kimchi is a superb cold killer.

Back to Kimchi.  Apart from the taste, which, as I have already said, is truly delicious, it is considered a ‘healthy food’ by the US magazine ‘Health’. In fact it is listed as one of the top five “World’s Healthiest Foods” for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly retarding cancer growth.  Hmmm….all good then.

I have decided to take two days off training.  I feel I need to have a bit of a rest.  I believe that I am knocking on the door of being over trained at the moment.  If life was super chilled and I was not juggling looking for a job and dealing with life’s other challenges I could probably handle a greater training load. But I can’t.  One thing I have learnt is that if in doubt. Rest.  Over-training will set you back much further than losing a day or two to rest.

In the case of cycling, over training often happens when a cyclist is training alone and is driven to exceed.  The days are long and rather than sit about watching wildlife documentaries on the television they head out on the bike and ‘beast’ themselves.  Either that or they don’t rest enough coming off a hard event, starting too early on their next ‘block’ of training, without allowing adequate rest.

I am sure many a professional cyclist has trained hard for a long stage race, to find that they have peaked just as the race begins.  For the first few days all goes well and then? Well and then, their legs fall off.

So having said all that I feel quite happy sitting here eating my red-hot kimchi.  I have researched the numerous health benefits and know that I am not over-training. I also have just over two euros in my pocket, which is probably more than the American Treasury Secretary has in his, unless he has managed to get his seven hundred billion dollars.

I may even go a buy a bottle of Rioja.  If I have any change left I will save it for my next rest day.

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