Monday, November 3, 2008


I only ran twice last week. But, I got in two good lifting workouts, and I'm tapering, so I think the easy week was OK. Overall, I've run fewer miles in this training cycle than I think I've ever done before for an attempt at a decent marathon. I've slogged through marathons on fewer miles, including two late-season marathons in 1998 on practically no training at all. I guess I'll find out on Sunday whether or not I ran enough miles.

My first run last week was an 8-miler on Tuesday with 4 marathon-pace miles. After lifting on Monday and pushing a bit on Tuesday, my left hamstring was sore. I skipped running for two days because of the hamstring. On Friday afternoon, I headed out for an easy run, planning to do 6 miles at whatever pace was comfortable. I ended up feeling pretty strong, my hamstring felt fine, and I ran faster than I'd expected.

My first mile felt easy and I was surprised to see a time of 8:27 on my Forerunner for that mile. Because it had felt so easy, I slowly pushed the pace a bit, to see how my hamstring would react. I ran a 7:40. Then, I hit an uphill mile and ran 8:28. I walked half of the one significant hill in this mile. After that hill, I pushed the pace some more and ran 7:33 and 7:26. I hit the 5-mile mark in just over 39:30, and then backed off for a cooldown of a little more than a mile. My hamstring didn't complain at all, although my legs felt a bit tight on Saturday. I need to focus on stretching and some foam rolling this week, even while I'm not running much.

I rested completely this weekend. On Saturday, I spent the day at at the ski mountain, doing pre-season training and paperwork. Saturday night, I cooked dinner for family. Yesterday, I slept in, read the newspaper, did some consulting work, and watched some television - a wonderfully lazy day.

My workouts for this week are pretty simple. No lifting. Runs of 4-4-0-2-2-0, with 2 MP miles today, 1 tomorrow, and 1 more on Thursday. Friday morning, I go to see my chiropractor and I'll run an easy 2 miles after that visit. Then, we'll hop into the car for the 8-hour drive to Harrisburg.

Mostly, I write about training and racing in this space, even though my profile mentions my love of good food and wine. The rest of this post is about that subject, so avert your eyes if you want to avoid wine geekiness.

Saturday night, I opened some older wines as we celebrated my father-in-law's 80th birthday. I made prime rib for dinner (local grass-fed beef - very good) and opened a magnum of 1989 Vieux Telegraphe. The wine still has a future ahead of it, but it's amazingly good right now. I still don't think the Vieux Telegraphe is as good as the Beaucastel from the same vintage, but they are both great wines, with very different styles. The Vieux Telegraphe is a much subtler wine, without the intensity that the Beaucastel has. I think that's primarily a product of the grapes they use rather than anything else. I don't think that Vieux Telegraphe uses any Mourvedre, while Beaucastel uses more Mourvedre than any other producer in Chateauneuf du Pape. Both are great wines and I'm glad I have more of each of them, in regular bottle sizes and some larger format bottles. I have one 3-liter bottle of each of these wines, which will be saved for some sort of special occasion down the road.

For dessert, I opened a 1977 Taylor-Fladgate Port. This was my only bottle of this wine. I bought it about 12 years ago for $65 and it sells for 2-4 times that much these days, depending on the condition of the bottle. While 1977 was a great vintage for Port, I was concerned that the wine would still be too young. Many of the wines from that vintage will last a very long time and the Taylor will probably still be drinking well long after I'm not around any more. I was quite happy to be able to share it with my father-in-law for his birthday. Plus, my brother-in-law loves good Port, so he was quite excited to taste it.

It was the best Port I've tasted in a long, long time. I don't think it was as good as the 1963 Taylor, which I've had a few times, but not since 1996 right now. It's hard to remember the details of the '63 from so many years ago, especially considering the other wines we had that night. A good fried prepared a "going away" dinner for some friends and my wife and me, just before we moved from California to Alaska. Dessert that night included full bottles of both the 1963 Taylor and the 1963 Fonseca - two of the greatest Ports I've ever tasted. There was a third component to that night's dessert that has probably clouded my memory of the wines somewhat.

You know, if I didn't love good food and good wine so much, I might actually be a decent athlete. But, life's too short to live as an ascetic, so I'm constantly trying to balance two antagonistic passions.

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