|As always, new city - new running grounds. What was very unsettling at first was how late the sun came up and how (relatively) quickly it went down, but I guess it's better for runs and for walking to work because by 9am it's already usually way too hot to go anywhere! |
(and as a side note, the first few times I went running in the Maria Luisa park I always went around the Plaza de España but now there are usually quite a few tourists there already, don't they have elsewhere to be at 8am?)
|While running by the Han river (beyond the World Cup Stadium) I stumbled on an archery range that was literally right next to the walking/cycling paths, with no high walls or any kind of protective measures. I guess peeps around here must be pretty good shots if no one is worried that there will be a stray shot. |
|Things I did not expect to see at 2PM on a Sunday in October: frost all over the place, even my street had frozen puddles. I also managed to get lost in the forest. Well, "lost" is a huge exaggeration. I knew which was I was supposed to go, I just didn't know the exact path I needed to take… but that's enough to say that one was lost in the central park in Helsinki, IMO. |
Sometimes I do get good ideas such as taking my gloves for this morning's run! Great, awesome, amazing idea! Alas I didn't take anything to cover my ears and they were numb by the time I came back (although that might be due to the fact that I stopped at 10km and walked home from the opera house). As usual, I didn't really mind the shorts - my legs don't really give a damn about being cold when running, quite the opposite of cycling. That reminds me that I have yet to order new good quality overshoes… freezing toes are no fun.
Oh, and the random weird stuff one can encounter in parks… a womb in a tree. The weird part is that it's on this path in keksuspuisto that I've never taken before because it basically leads to nowhere useful for me, but it's really close to the south edge of the park! I've walked within 100m of it so many times! The things one discovers! One of these days I'm going to finally try to find the pet cemetery a bit up north in that park.
Ah, that marathon that wasn't. But the half-marathon that was. And the personal growth that happened. I think that nicely sums up everything.
The morning of the race I felt rather good, optimistic even, everything felt very decent, perhaps even really good. I had a really good pace on the first 10K, didn't really force anything and I managed somewhere around 5:45min/km. Then it all went to shit, my head wasn't into it and my stomach wasn't into it either, stuff like that happens. I think at around km 15 I really wanted to just stop because it stopped being fun, I talked myself into finishing at least half the distance and if things didn't get better I would stop. And that's what I did. I finished the half in about 2 hours 9 minutes, kilometres 10 through 21 with horribly varying paces all depending on how that old body was functioning. I could have continued, I could have gone on alternating walking and running but there is only so much dry heaving without being able to force down anything and not being mentally into it that I can take. I may not have another finisher's medal but I respected my "I'll stop when it stops being fun" idea and I didn't have to be scooped up with a spoon!
|First of all, let me tell you about this fucked up dream I had last night. I think it was a dream, it wasn't a very pleasant dream for sure, but it wasn't full-on nightmare either. For some reason I was in Risoul, I remember that there was a bit of action where we went up lifts on the right side of Risoul, except that now I think back those lifts do not exist on that side of the resort, the closest equivalent lifts are on the left side or in the middle. But I guess that doesn't matter, what matters is the fact that we got to the middle of the station and somehow just my sister and I ended up resting in this small hut where there was a bed and a dresser that was on top of the bed, I don't know how it worked but the dresser was definitely on top of the bed. It was not winter, there was no snow, all was green, but we were inside. Then at one point one of us looked out and there was a tornado coming! A tornado in the southern Alps! Of course we ran inside and hoped it would pass by without destroying our hut. It passed by. We started discussing what should we do next time there was a tornado and, being the bright light I am, I proposed we test out if hiding under the mattress would be enough, which of course wasn't. Then I went outside again and saw a dude in a Katusha kit going up the lacets in a road nearby and another tornado coming up. I ran back inside and said we should hide under the bed, it would work because there was the bed and there was the dresser on top of it. And then my brain decided enough was enough and I woke up and spent hours trying to remember what the Mythbusters found in that episode where they tested if it's better to keep the windows open during a hurricane and wondered if it would apply to tornadoes. |
So there. I have no idea what my unconscious was trying to say but tornadoes in the Alps, why not! And that dresser on top of the bed… I don't know why there was a dresser on top of the bed and we were still able to rest on the bed. I also don't know where that hut would really be in Risoul for it to be close to the top of a lift and close to asphalt road.
But enough about that. How about a small weather update because this morning was rather cold. A bit under 7C in the city centre! Colder than we've had in previous nights.
That's mainly important because it means that it was also a colder morning in Tallinn and that means that tomorrow morning might be cold too and the problem with a 9am start and a finish 4 and a half or five hours later (hopefully) is that you start out running in the cold but then it really warms up. 5-10C in the morning is kind of cold.
I packed my 40% merino wool short sleeve jersey and arm warmers. The jersey is warmer than my running shirts when it's cold but it's also light enough not to feel hot when it gets hotter outside (and it does not feel like a gross sticky mass when wet). I scoffed at people running in cycling jerseys my first year, now I know that I was wrong to do so because that's my go-to solution. Although probably regular cycling jerseys just have the advantage of pockets, the merino wool - that stuff is amazing, I'm actually thinking about getting the 90% merino wool jersey that Rapha have, the H/H tech under layers I have are amazingly warm but they don't feel as nice as wool against your skin. Oh boy, I'm getting old, aren't I? Getting back in touch with nature, products that are closer to nature and all of that.
So that's that. Time maybe to pack the rest. (BTW, this was typed up at around 7:30am, my boat doesn't leave till 1:30pm, and I just have to pack stuff a small backpack, so I'm totally on time with things!)
|Exactly two things can happen in a week and a half - either I have legs and lungs or I don’t. I had legs and lungs on Sunday, I didn’t have legs nor lungs today (Wednesday).|
On Saturday and Sunday I managed sub-hour 10Ks. Actually on Sunday it was a rather easy sub-hour 10K followed by a hilly/windy 10K at very decent 6:20ish speed. Today? I was happy whenever I managed to run a kilometre in something less than 7:00. Granted, I ran all on road on Sat/Sun and today was 8/10 trail. I was telling myself that at least I had some decent hills in, and I did get 250m elevation gain (by the barometer, 265m if you ask the GPS), but they seemed way higher when going up them than they do when traced.
And the views weren't half bad, both Sunday…
… and today.
|Yesterday's run was quite something - I mentally overcame the obstacle of being able to make to the top of what I call "calanques left and then straight" and it didn't even hurt all that much. Three days of doing nothing beforehand sure helped. |
And I'm officially also signed up to run the Tallinn marathon on the 8th of September. I think that's the earliest I have ever signed up for that. Now the trick is not to get injured in the next three weeks… although my race from two years ago showed me well that even though my knee couldn't take a 14km run the week before, I still made it to the finish line, so a lot of it is in my head.
|It turns out by the time that post yesterday morning was posted I was not on my bike but on a run. I just didn't feel like getting back on the bike and I got this stupid idea to try and achieve 113 kilometres in a weekend, which is the distance of a half-IronMan… except no swimming was involved and instead of 90 kilometres on the bike there were 94 and instead of a half marathon there were only 19 kilometres ran. Still those 19 kilometres felt like hell and now I know that I may be able to run a marathon with just existing fitness capital, I would never be able to hack a half-IM like that. More cycling and more running to do… oh, and possibly also get over the whole "I would have to swim 1.9 kilometres in open water" bit (unless someone finds me a half-IM where they have people swim in pools, I'm cool with pools even if I swim very, very, very slowly). And I'd have to look into the whole nutrition issue because I usually just wing it with whatever I feel like eating and staying away from starchy foods for about 24 hours before a long effort. |
Anywho. We'll say that all of this is good practice for Tallinn if ever I want to run that marathon again.
|On the bike, it's the wind that's my eternal enemy. On runs - it's the humidity. It was harsh today out there and I decided to stop the carnage after 6km... but at least I did get to the top of Gineste yesterday, so that's one annual tradition over and done with. It might not be the Mont Ventoux (but then how many people run up it?) but it's still good in terms of getting some consecutive uphill kilometres in. |
The worst is going down though because the back of my thighs hurt a bit during this morning's run. Overall during this week's runs I've had 1,177m of total elevation gain, so that's also over 1km of elevation loss, you'd have thought that by now my legs would be used to it.
Oh, and obligatory top-of-Gineste photo. If you want to see the sign, it's on Instagram/Tumblr… it really hasn't changed since last year.
|On the 5th I had the chance to experience doing a 10K race in 30C at 9PM… after three and a half hours in an overheated train (because SNCF + first day of real heat = "sorry, the A/C is out of order… we don't really know why"). In the end it was rather funky running around Toulouse as the sun was setting but it was still way too hot and humid! 30C+ and no wind in sight! At the 5K bottle station I just dumped a whole bottle on my head/back and that was probably the best part of the race, that moment of immediate cooling down. Overall I got a decent sub-hour net time given the conditions (1:00:37 in official time but we were about rather far away from the start line - see photo) but there were too many people running for the small streets we were asked to go on! My pace was all over the place because multiple times we went straight from large avenues to streets where three people could barely run shoulder to shoulder and many peeps clearly had never run before with many other peeps and they just would not keep their line. The other problem was that the race was mostly in the city centre and Toulouse has loads of bars/restaurants and people kept crossing the street or walking very slowly along the same narrow streets we were taking, it got rather frustrating after a while. But hey, it was for a good cause and all that. |
We had a good two or three minutes of walking just to get to the starting line…
… which you can see on the right there, behind the "arrivée" line.
And we finished the race when it was pretty much fully dark.
|It's all fun and games running outside when it's almost 30C with a bit of wind but then you get back inside and all that sweat doesn't evaporate easily and you realise your arms sweat a lot more than you thought. |
Every single year I'm surprised by the amount of sweat my arms produce. Every single year.
|I am growing soft. I ran my basic 10km route this morning and I was sure I was going to clock in at least 200m in dénivelé and I only got 152m. Still, those legs remember how to steadily go up and up for kilometres at a time, so I suppose now I just have to run my annual run up the Gineste and life will be back to normal. |
Also, I'm totally digging the auto lap feature on the 910XT that vibrates every kilometre. Back in the day I used to run with the Nike+ app I had it set to tell me every kilometre also but it was way more intrusive than just a tiny vibration... and Strava didn't have that option so I kind of had forgotten about it.
And hey, the trail running does change quite a bit from my usual Helsinki routes.
|I've developed a new habit - go for runs and take a route that actually gets me my mileage somewhere about 3 to 4 kilometres away from home so that I can walk back and catch up on podcasts. Because that's the problem with the warm months - I don't really have settings during those months when I can actually listen to them. I only listen to music on runs and never listen to anything on the bike… It's only now that I realised that I walked and took public transportation to more places when it was snowing. Still, this system works and every time I can catch up with about two episodes of Stuff You Missed in History Class or Stuff You Should Know.|
Oh, and remember how I live close by Sibellius monument?
We're back to having tons of buses stop there way too early in the morning, by my touristy standards.
I don't want to be mean but that's not one monument/sea coast area that I would want to visit before 9am if I were in Helsinki just for a few days (especially on a day like today when it was all drizzly and yucky in the park). I mean, I love the monument, I love that piece of sea coast because it's always a good bet if I want to clear my head but as a tourist… I just don't see it. Then again I fail as a tourist in general.
As of this morning, Strava tells me I have cycled 1666.6 kilometres since July 31st. Devilishly awesome, if you ask me.
That's not really the correct number though because there are a few rides to the city centre that are not included in that number. And one commute.
Dammit, why do I remember things like that? Why do I clearly remember that I forgot to turn on Strava one day about two months ago?
That represents 148 rides, a bit more than 83 hours on the bike(s) and just over an elevation gain of 15 kilometres. Alas I do not keep statistics (and Strava does not keep automatic statistics for me) of how many of those kilometres were done in the dark (decreases speed like hell) and/or in the rain (decreases speed some more). For the curious, this morning's commute had it all - pitch black, rain, wind - the magic trio. Sometimes it's only a modified trio - pitch black, wet roads, wind. That's fun too! (that was sarcasm)
The running stats are way less fun. An average of 1 run per week but 20 kilometres per run. Since July 31st I have spent about 28 hours on the trails/roads. That just sounds way less impressive than 83 hours.
|Please gather around as I tell you the brilliant ways the connections in my brain work!|
This morning, as it was still cold and there were still patches of ice on the ground, I went for a run. With a proper amount of peanut butter and cheese the night before for a long run (it seems that I have finally found what my body needed in unsweetened peanut butter because clearly I need to load up on fat the night before but too much cheese is a bad idea, as seen last weekend), I set out in -4C a bit after 8am. Somewhere after a full circle of Seurasaari and on towards Otaniemi, it finally registered that it was too light for that time of day. Then I calculated, today is the Sunday closest to my birthday and that means it's Marseille-Cassis weekend and that means that we switched clocks! Every single thing I use to check the time automatically switches the time in my flat and now it's done without even informing me (unlike in ye olden days of pop ups asking me if I was sure that we had switched over to winter time). I think only my cameras still have the old time and I never bother with that. I don't even own a mechanical wrist watch! I don't own any wrist watches for that matter... I feel like I'm failing Douglas Adams on some level.
And, thus, it is clear that I am a slave to modern machines. And now it's dark outside at 4:30pm. Oh, I suppose I should be happy with a 7:30am sunrise except that I'm already at work by then and soon that sunrise will be 9am in any case. We're down to under 9 hours of daylight. Every year I am surprised at how fast it goes. I really am like one of those people on the telly that act all surprised when it snows a shitton in winter in the mountains, "oh, this is crazy, can you believe it, snow in winter, around here!"
Back to the running though, -4C which warmed up to around -2C... quite different conditions from the Marseille-Cassis stuff but maybe we can say that my Sunday half-marathon ran around Töölö bay was a bit equivalent to climbing those 10km and going down the other 10 in 15C weather? Certainly, there was no dip in the sea afterwards but you can't have everything. I really should run that race again eventually, I like to think that I am much stronger mentally and can take on much more pain these days than four or five years ago.
And for shits and giggles - mini!Gali and some running.