Saturday, 30 July 2011

In Paris, about to run near the banks of La Seine

We are now in Paris, spending the long weekend here, what with Monday being Swiss National Day.  I brought my running shoes with me, and shortly will pound the pavements of Paris.  The friend with whom we are staying lives near to La Seine and the idea of running along the banks of La Seine appeals to me, so I will try to find my way there.

Usually I only pass through Paris on my way to London so it is nice to be able to see Paris itself, and being shown around by a local is always a bonus.  Also running wise, a change of scenery is always welcome.  I should have brought my Ipod with me and played songs such as "Il est 5 heures, Paris s'éveille".

Thursday, 28 July 2011

British airways policy is very bike friendly

I have now booked my flight to Buenos Aires with British Airways, travelling via London Heathrow.  The main reason I chose them is because their policy with regard to bikes is very easy to understand.  Bikes can be considered as part of your normal checked allowance.  If your ticket allows you one checked bag then the bike will count as that one checked bag, and if you want to check in an additional bag you just pay a flat rate.  They only charge per extra bag and not per kg of extra weight, provided each bag weighs no more than 23kg.  I have purchased an additional checked bag, so I can now take my bike (up to 23kg) plus one other piece of checked luggage (up to 23kg).  Now I don't need to worry about what extra charges I may be lumbered with at the airport, like I would if the bike policy was not clear (indeed the case for the majority of airlines).

I arrive in Buenos Aires on the morning of the 23rd September, and the bike tour leaves on the 25th.  All riders are expected to be in Buenos Aires by the 24th.  That gives me an extra day to get my bike ready, and to see the sights of the city.  I am sure there will be other riders arriving a day early as well, so I will try and hook up with them to paint the town red.  I haven't decided yet what I will do with the bike once I reach Cusco, but I may be able to take it with me, because after doing the Inca trail we will be flying to Lima.  I could then leave the bike at Anny's parents apartment in Lima till we finish touring Peru.  We will be flying back on the 27th December with Lan airlines to Madrid, so I will have to check the policy of Lan and see how much they would charge me to take it with me to Madrid.

Everything is starting to come together now, both the trip in Africa and the trip in South America, so finally I am able to start relaxing a bit.  The last few weeks I have been super stressed what with trying to get hold of visas, book flights, find the best companies with whom to the Kilimanjaro trek and so on.  Now the only remaining things to be organised are the Peru excursions (Inca trail, Amazon, Nazca lines) , the internal transport in Peru (buses/ domestic flights) and the flight from Lima to Madrid that we need to book.   Golden times lie ahead.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Starting to ache all over - thank goodness for the massage appointment tomorrow

Tomorrow will be a good way to start the day - a sports massage before work.  After yoga yesterday there were plenty of aches and pains today.  The usual teacher was on vacation and the one who took over normally runs the tougher Friday lunchtime class.  She is heavily pregnant but still manages to demonstrate most of the moves.  My back and sides were aching when I woke up this morning, and all my ribs are tender to the touch.

At lunchtime I went for a run and that helped to loosen me up.  I think I am aching less after the run than I was before the run, but still I need a sports massage to get me back to a nice comfortable non aching state.  Tomorrow I probably should try to go for a cycle ride, as we are away for a long weekend in Paris and I wont be taking my bike with me.  But I will have to see if I can fit that in.  I will be taking my running shoes with me though.

On a completely separate note I got my Democratic Republic of Visa today, so my trip is starting to come together.  It looks like I will get to see those gorillas after all.  There won't be much freedom to run in the DRC though.  When the sun goes down, the people like me who care for our safety don't venture out on the streets.  I mean I can hardly blend in as a local.  I do plan on running in South America though, and I may do some in Kigali as apparently that is quite a safe city.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Night cramps

The last few nights I have been moving in my sleep and have awoken because my calf muscles were on the verge of cramping.  It is not through lack of stretching as yesterday's fitness was yoga, which entails plenty of stretching.

It may be that I will have to look at taking some kind of supplement that contains potassium and magnesium, or trying to drink more water.  The biggest problem with cramping is that the tightness persists for a day or more afterwards, so you have to skip a day of training to let it return to normal.

I hadn't even experienced a cramp until I was 19 years old, but I have had plenty since then to make up for it.  It usually happens in my calf muscle and it feels like the muscle is going to tear in two.  From time to time I also get them in my quads.

Kilimanjaro here we come - everything booked

Everything is now booked for my Kilimanjaro climb in September.  I chose a UK company called AbsoluteKilimanjaro as I am more comfortable with transferring my money to a UK based company.  The route I am doing is the Lemosho route (illustrated below).  I will doing the route in 8 days, which should afford me a chance to acclimatise and allow me to enjoy the climb more.  The original route I wanted to do (the Umbwe route) goes straight up the side of the mountain and joins at someone around point 7 on the illustration.  That doesn't really give you much chance to acclimatise and so the chances of summiting are rather low.

I am really looking forward to the climb and although it is not technically difficult I am sure it will be a challenge to hike above 5,000m.  At the moment it is just me doing the climb (private trek), but it is possible that a couple of others may join me.  If anyone reading this is interested in joining and your fitness is of a similar level to mine then I would be pleased to hear from you.  I will be arriving at Kilimanjaro airport on the 8th September and will be taking the Moshi-Nairobi shuttle and flying from Nairobi airport back to Zurich on the 17th September.


Monday, 25 July 2011

Something to try next time you are running

I read the other day that leaning forward whilst running can help you to run faster provided you don't break the lean at the hip.  Whilst I was out jogging at lunchtime I thought I would try it out.  As I started to lean forward my pace started to increase without any additional effort.

Whilst I found I was running faster, I also found that I was getting tired quicker.  Once you get used to it I am sure it becomes much easier to maintain, but this being my first time my body was not accustomed to the lean.  The place I felt it most was in my core.

I think to test it out properly I need to time myself over a set distance running as I normally do, and then a few days later time myself on the same course but this time deliberately focussing on learning forward.  This is one of the reasons why I think it may be worthwhile joining a running club when I get back from South America - I may pick up little tips like this that can make an instant difference to my running times.  Not just a club where they go out jogging a couple of times per week, but one where they have track sessions and get in coaches from time to time to help their members improve their running technique and efficiency.  If anyone can recommend a good one in Zurich I would be happy to hear from you.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Stung by a bee

Many times when you are cycling along at cruising speed an insect or fly or a bee or something else will fly into your face or your eye (if you aren't wearing sunglasses) or into the holes in your helmet.  I don't know how many flies I have eaten over the years but it must be quite a few.  These accidental insect consumptions are the only exception I make to my usually vegetarian diet.  Sometimes if you are hurtling down the mountain these insect strikes can really hurt.  A bee hit at 70 or 80km/h is like a small stone being thrown at your face.

Well today a bee decided to fly into the holes in my helmet then get itself trapped and commit suicide by stinging me.  Whilst wasps can sting multiple times a bee can only sting once as then it loses part of its abdomen and dies.  I don't know why it decided to sting me as I was just leaving it to find its own way out, the same way it came in.  But when it did sting it wasn't that pleasant and whilst still cycling along I was going crazy trying to get my helmet off as quickly as possible.  When I stopped and saw the poor bee in the final few minutes of its life I felt very sorry for it.

If it had been a wasp on the other hand I would have not been sorry at all to see it die.  Strange that how some animals we love and other ones we hate.  What did the wasp do to get such a bad reputation??

Saturday wasted

With all this running as of late, I can't afford to let the cycling slip.  I need to be comfortable with doing 100km a day for up to 8 days in a row ready for the Vuelta Sudamericana in 2 months time.  With this in mind I decided this weekend I would need to at least one decent ride.

On Friday we went to a BBQ and I didn't drink that much - 4 or 5 alcoholic drinks max.  However, when I woke up on Saturday morning I felt like utter crap and I had a splitting headache.  On top of that I felt really nauseous and even vomited a couple of times.  It was clear that the day was going to be wasted staying in bed recovering.  Even by the evening I still felt pretty bad - I could feel my pulse in my head.  So basically the whole of Saturday was wasted.

Finally when I woke up this morning I felt okay again.  So I have been for a ride just short of 100km with a good few hills in it.  I didn't stop for any snacks or for lunch, as it wasn't really long enough to warrant that. The weather was not that great - there were lots of rain clouds in the sky and you could even see the places where it was raining up ahead by the dark streaks that come down from the clouds to the ground.  I was constantly adjusting my route so that I was always heading towards clear skies but in the end that made quite an interesting route that went down the lake towards Rapperswil and then went to the Greifensee.

I have just bought 3 books to help my training so now that I have done my ride I can start reading those. One is a very famous one called Born to run written by Christopher McDougall and then there is another one on how the latest science can be applied to running to help you run faster and longer and then the last one is called Racing Weight and is about how to achieve a leaner physique for optimal performance. One interesting fact I learnt from reading the first few pages of Racing Weight is that when you have less body fat your body can thermoregulate itself better in high temperatures.  Anything that can help my body to cope with running in extreme heat will be of great interest to me in the run up to the Marathon des Sables.

So I wish you all an enjoyable end to your weekends and take it easy,