26 September 2009

Great Gorilla Run

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted there was no post last week (though I did end up in the Guardian again). I seem to have acquired some kind of tendon or ligament injury to my right foot during the Marathon du Médoc that is taking ages to get better - it was so bad last week that I was worried it was a stress fracture (props to all those I bored with my whinging) but it has gradually got a bit better over the last few days. So instead of running, I spent my time watching the Wire - now half way through Season 3. That and eating. I've been to Olivomare with my mum (great), Franco Manca with Lotte, Harriet and Ben (just about lives up to the hype), Haozhan with Catherine (poor), Chisou with Nick, Dom and Rob (great) and the C&R Cafe (with a bunch of the Caius lot) in the last 10 days. Normally I get away with this kind of behaviour but I've not been running because of the foot. I am now massive.

And so to today. Obviously, I didn't want to go on too long a run. I wanted more of a short-ish test to see if my foot was OK. Luckily, I'd entered the Great Gorilla Run, a gentle 4.5-mile meander that started walking distance from my flat. I thus found myself putting on an animal suit for the second time in two weeks and wandering down to Mincing Lane for the start at 10.30am, generating the odd admiring glance. Come the race, obviously, the distance wasn't a problem but it was still a tough run because of my new-found furriness. I thought I'd leave my costume fully on the whole way round and ended up very wet indeed. I was expecting to be pretty moist but two unforeseen problems arose - the condensation inside my head/mask (not pleasant) and I also noticed (about half way round) that my hands/gloves were watertight and slowly filling up with sweat. Not at all pleasant. The event itself was obviously hilarious and it was nice to bump into Richard P at the end, an old friend from school and college.

My foot now hurts again. Hardly unexpected but... bugger.

13 September 2009

The Marathon du Médoc

I've wanted to do the Marathon du Médoc for a few years now and finally persuaded my brother to come along with me. It's billed as "le plus longue du monde" because of the 20+ tastings as you pass the châteaux around the course, along with the oysters, Bayonne ham, steak, cheese and ice-cream in the last three or so miles. 90% run it in fancy dress. This year's theme was the circus, so we (obviously) went in costumes that were totally unrelated, my brother as Elvis and me in a penguin suit. It looked good on the website but was thick, black and generally highly unsuitable for running on a sunny day in Southern France.
The course was spectacular and the 'race' was great fun but it was somewhat slow going given the frequent refreshment stops. We got round in 6h20, 10 minutes before the course was officially shut, having drunk and eaten at every station that was serving things along the way. I was pleased this morning that the race, the drinking and the ridiculous costume hadn't taken too much out of me. My legs aren't too stiff, which is a marked contrast to my only other marathon, London in 2006, although my time then was considerably better!

Extra photos, for the extra dedicated, can be seen here. Respec' to my bro for keeping me company and making it round to the end; also to the guys at Gruaud Larose for providing what I think was the best wine of the day.

10 September 2009

Basel and Cologne

I was away this week with work, arriving in Basel on Monday evening. After a few meetings on Tuesday, I courageously assumed that the weekend's through-fall problems were resolved and went for what turned out to be a great run in beautiful weather. I started off through the old town - past the town hall and the cathedral - then along the Rhein and down one of its tributaries. This took me past the footie stadium (one of Basel's must-sees apparently) and into some proper woodland. Navigating (poorly) via my Blackberry and a printout from mapmyrun.com I then ended up climbing a decent hill up to a meadow halfway to somewhere called Muttenz, before returning via the Botanic Gardens. Just over 9.2 miles in 1h33 - not very quick for me, but good fun.
The next day, we finished up in Cologne, where mapmyrun.com had found me a straightforward run down the banks of the Rhein. This one was much quicker in every way - 4.2 miles in 32 mins. On the way, I saw some cool buildings overhanging the river, below. Cologne holds good memories for me - another first moment of freedom. My friend Gus and I spent our first night Inter-railing here just after A-levels. We only spent a few hours here on our way to Prague but it was my first trip as a proper independent traveler and it prefaced what was a hilarious holiday, a massive loop through Greece, Italy, France, Holland and Belgium. One of our first acts was to climb the cathedral - visible on the right hand side of this shot.

06 September 2009

Animals V

Friday night saw me arrive at the Dog House in Kennington at about 6.30pm and leave at about midnight, after various friends had come and gone - Charlie, Lotte, Osh, Harriet and Ben in that order. Saturday afternoon and evening was taken up by Anna's birthday lunch and drinks. In the intervening couple of hours I managed to fit in my 11 mile loop around London's central Parks. I ran anticlockwise for a change, to Regent's Park first, then Hyde, Green and St James'.

It's funny when you reverse a run - you often see things that have previously totally passed you by. Whilst I was expecting something new, I was amazed to see a vast bronze horse's head at Marble Arch - I couldn't understand how I'd missed it before, particularly given my animal obsession. Turns out it's only been there a couple of months. Phew. I did notice a view from the bridge in St James' Park that I'd never really noticed before though, across the lake to the Horse Guards building, with (I think) the FCO on the right and the London Eye poking out above it.

I was going to run back to my folks' for lunch again today but have been afflicted by a bout of what the Germans so descriptively call "durchfall", which put paid to that. Oh well.