You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Oh, Sunday. I had almost lost hope you would come. I am still waiting for my husband, but he is coming back tonight, so it’s all good.
Today I ran a 15k race in the morning, for which I didn’t have any expectation as I knew it was super hilly and it turned out to be muddy as well, and took it as a tempo run on a hilly course. I ended up in 15th position among all the women and in 7th for my age group. I spent my afternoon studying for my upcoming conferences for the next few days and watching the Chicago marathon at the same time, from my couch, with a steaming hot cup of tea with milk. I will be on the road again on Tuesday, because I have an assignment in Milan, but I will be back on Wednesday. It will be my last mission for a while. Travelling over the last two weeks really took a toll on me, and having this Sunday afternoon to spend at home was a much needed break.
I went out to shop for groceries and couldn’t find half the stuff that I needed. Although that was frustrating, I ended up making a cake anyway. Here it is.
180 g flour
5 tbs butter
150 g sugar
lemon zest + lemon juice
250 g ricotta cheese
16 g baking powder
a couple handfuls of blueberries
Preheat your oven at 180°C. Beat your butter and sugar together vigorously, add eggs and beat some more. Add ricotta cheese and lemon zest + lemon juice (a good squeeze), and beat slowly until well blended. Add flour, salt and baking powder. Mix everything until smooth and creamy. Add in blueberries, transfer to pan and bake for 50 mins to an hour. Let cool and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
(… I wasn’t patient enough. The cake hasn’t yet cooled down but I have already had two slices).
Sometimes not training is much harder than any training. Setbacks are part of the journey, and it is normal to feel down when you can’t do what you like. I have a minor knee issue and was only able to do some strength training today because running hurts too badly, but hopefully we can fix that soon. In the meantime, I want to share some reflections with you.
But this is also the time to look back at what we have done together. I had never run until about two years ago, and Francesco only started coaching me about a year and a half ago. Since then, he has taken me to the point where I’ve run a full trail marathon, 2 half marathons and a good handful of shorter races (not necessarily easier though!). We’ve run some races together, some on our own, some for each other, as in the case of a relay race.
I broke the 2 hour barrier in my very first half marathon, which was also my first race ever. On my second half marathon I smashed my PR by more than 10 minutes, finishing strong in 1h45′. We ran our first trail marathon together, on our honeymoon, and won it. I had never run a trail race OR a marathon before, but all I could think was that all the training that we had done had really paid off. Having a coach can make all the difference to your running, really, both in terms of motivation and in terms of the results you can achieve. So I thought I would post a sample week of the training that I do, in case you’re interested. You can also follow us on Strava and contact us for more information.
Here is my past week of training:
20′ warm up + 30′ fartlek (3′ hard 2′ easy)x6 + 5′ easy
AM 35′ + PM 30′
AM strength training
PM 15′ warm up + 10×200 @40” (200m jog in between) + 1000m @4’20”
20′ warm up + 10′ tempo pace + 5′ easy + 5′ hard + 5′ easy
So, we finally went to a new track here in Brussels, which is located at the VUB sports centre (Flemish University). After registering at the desk and getting our card with 10 sessions on it (under 20 euros of cost, card included), we tested the track and I found some old toys (barriers) that maybe will be used again in training. The track is nice, quite and shielded from the wind…not the fastest around but fast enough! Besides, it should be lit until midnight and you can access the changing rooms and showers…fingers crossed, it is true! To sum it up: we discovered a new place and we like it!
Yesterday I worked, today I wanted to go to the seaside. But it was raining, so we decided to set our sight on a new mission: finding the very elusive Tuscany training camp.
We turned in circles for maybe two hours in the middle of nowhere in the countryside of Tuscany. We stopped to ask for directions two or three times, with local people being very kind to us and pointing us to other people who should have known more, but nobody could point us to the right place. What we were looking for was the track on dirt that hosts the training sessions of a group of strong Ugandan and Burundian runners.
We were going to give up, but we wanted to go down every possible avenue before heading back home, so we went to the tiny village where the runners live. We got to their hotel and saw a fast-looking guy. We approached him and we chatted for a while. He offered to show us the track and kindly accompanied us to see the track. We weren’t particularly impressed with the track itself, but mainly with the extraordinary kindness and peacefulness of this young runner, Jacob Limo, a sixteen-year-old from Uganda. He has already represented Uganda internationally and we wish him all the very best for his running career.
Sometimes the best things come as a surprise. It was refreshing to talk to this Ugandan boy whom we would have probably never met, had it not been for our passion for running.