Monday, 21 April 2008


The blog has been silent for over a week because we've been on holiday (with the rest of my family). We went for a week to was great getting some sunshine in our lives for a change.

We flew out to Lanzarote on Thursday (10th April). We all met up at Gatwick airport - which all went quite smoothly (a rare occurrence when my family is involved). The "family" consisted of Jo, my parents (aka mum and dad), my oldest sister Am (who did most of the leg work in organising the holiday - hence needed a holiday the most!), my other sister Kam, her husband Hosh, their daughters Simren and Sukhmuni, my oldest brother Satpal, his wife Parm and finally my other brother Jag (unfortunately due to a marriage break-up his wife and kids weren't present). Phew - now you can see why Am needed a holiday....organising the Sandhu (and Phagura) clans is anything but straight-forward.

The flight was on Monarch Airways - probably the worst airline in the western world. Do they think that the flying population consists of hobbits? Extra legroom is of course available - at an extra charge....why don't they just ensure their seats come with enough legroom for the average human being!? I had to tell the passenger in front of me to not attempt to recline her seat as she was crushing my kneecaps - she had her headphones in, hence couldn't hear the crunch of bone every time she pushed her seat back and couldn't work out why it wasn't moving!!!

We arrived in Lanzarote late afternoon - collected the rental cars and headed to our two villas in Playa Blanca. I had every intention of eating healthy and sensible size portions this week but the first meal kind of set the scene. We started with garlic prawns (lets just say I'll be sweating garlic for the next month) and then had seafood barbecue. Four of us ordered the seafood barbecue, but enough food for ten people was served. I hate leaving food and I hate over-eating - so I think I settled somewhere in between! The food for the rest of the week was pretty much a repeat of this...not quite as big in terms of portions, but definitely in terms of garlic!

On Friday morning Jo and I went for a 12km hard run (DPT). West along the coast from Playa Blanca to just beyond the lighthouse and back. My knees hurt a little from the crammed flight but eventually they sorted themselves out. The coastal path has some nice uphills - so was good training. Friday evening Satpal and Hosh went for a 10km run - so I decided to join them...a nice slow 10km. I felt good.

Persuaded Satpal, Kam and Hosh to join Jo and myself on our Saturday morning run. We were aiming for 20km. Kam intended to turn around after a few km but Satpal and Hosh were looking to stick with us for about 7km (hence 14km total). Satpal's maximum distance ever had been 10km so this was going to be his longest ever run. Hosh on the other hand has always been a runner - he trained to do the London Marathon a few years ago but had to pull out due to problems with his knees. When Hosh ran with us it confirmed what we had suspected...Hosh trains too hard, running at our slow pace was an eye opener for him (I think). The fact that he hadn't ever run this slow before highlighted that he didn't do the slow build-up training that is necessary in order to prepare your legs and feet for the time spent pounding the pavements. Hosh is a much faster runner than myself or Jo so hopefully this slower, more enjoyable, pace of running will rekindle his motivation for running so that he can keep at it consistently.

The run this time took us East along the coast past Playa Blanca, heading to Playa Papagayo. Jo and I really enjoyed the run - Jo, Hosh and Kam chatted together while Satpal and I had a good old banter too. It made the time (and distance) pass quickly. Kam peeled off in the centre of Playa Blanca. We bumped into Parm on her run (think she's not prepared to run with us quite yet - although I think she runs faster than us too). Then it was just Jo, Satpal, Hosh and myself. The weather was perfect going out - a little windy but Lanzarote is always windy! We passed the 7km mark and Satpal and Hosh stayed with us. Satpal contemplated turning around at 8km but we persuaded him to stick with us to the 10km turnaround point. "You can always walk once you're too tired to run" (I knew walking was never going to be an option, but I knew he was capable of doing the 20km at our slow pace, and Hosh had done further than 20km in his training in the past so no worries there either). So we carried on to the 10km return point, which took us to the beaches around Papagayo beach. It got a bit hotter on the way home so we suffered a little bit more, but before we were struggling too much I suggested to Satpal that he may want to do an extra half kilometre away from home, so that our total distance would be that he could say he did a half-marathon. He didn't say "no", so I took that for a "yes" ;)

Satpal was cursing me when we veered away from home to squeeze in an extra kilometre, but looking back I'm sure he's glad we did it. We all sprinted home at the end of the run. Jo crept up on me going into the final 100 metres, but she kicked too early and I put my foot down and won the final sprints (did I mention we're a competitive family!) fact it was my fastest ever sprint, going over 20kph (that's the same pace that professionals run the entire distance of a marathon - insane!). I totally agree with Jo - it was our most enjoyable run ever.

I tried to look after my legs for the rest of the day...plenty of cold showers, with a hot tub treatment in between and further cooling in the swimming pool. What a hard life!

Sunday was our long run, 30km. It was to be just Jo and myself. The aim was to run the 10km to Papagayo beach, then to run 10km beyond, returning to Papagayo where the rest of the family would meet us for some seaside fun and games (and feeding). The run itself was pretty uneventful. We both felt strong going out. The first 10km was easy. The next 10km I really enjoyed but Jo hated. Mentally Jo found it difficult as it was barren and desolate, but that's exactly why I enjoyed it. Also it was mostly uphill. I found the final (mostly downhill) 10km hard as my feet were beginning to hurt (mainly because my trainers were only one size too big, which for me is not enough especially in hot weather - the feet expand and when you go downhill the toes hit the front of the trainers causing friction and pain). Jo, on the other hand, loved most of the final 10km - especially the roller coaster (short uphills and long downhills).

We arrived on the beach to applause from the family (much appreciated) and a tour party cruising on Segways!!!

I think we were both pretty tired when we finished. I forced us to take our shoes off and walk into the sea; the Atlantic sea is freezing, perfect for a post run leg cool down. Jo didn't stay in the sea for too long - but I stuck it out (as I knew I was down for a long mountain bike ride the next day, whereas Jo had an easy run to do).

We then spent the rest of the day with the family, chilling out on the beach and eating.

The next day (without Jo) I left to go mountain biking with the lads (Satpal, Hosh and Jag). We hired bikes and a guide from Costa Teguise. It was a good thing we hired a guide because it pushed us - otherwise we probably would have hit the first hill and then gone to a bar!! Instead we had a mammoth 50km bike ride up some hellish terrain. I think that was, for me, one of the hardest bike rides ever....technically it was easy, but in terms of effort (maybe due to the heat and my long run yesterday) it was mega hard. We did a bike ride near Moab ("Behind The Rocks") a couple of years ago that was probably slightly harder (due to the heat and the sand). The fact that we cycled to the highest point on the island (about 700 metres) didn't help either! When I go mountain biking with the lads I'm usually at the back - and I was certainly expecting to be at the back this time too, but it wasn't to be the case this time. I felt pretty good on the ride...I found the uphills hard but I never stalled.

Hosh and Satpal almost kept up with the guide who obviously made light work of the terrain but Jag struggled. Jag didn't have breakfast, didn't bring enough water and spent the last few days rollerblading in the midday sun (hence started from a state of dehydration) - so it was no surprise that he hit the "wall", having to push the bike up the final uphill to the peak. Jag loves rollerblading and currently (due to complexity in his life) doesn't have time for other activities, hence his fitness is very seasonal. Once rollerblading season kicks off in the UK then he'll probably return to his peak fitness but since the weather in the UK has been so poor he hasn't done much for a while (although I think he's taken up swimming too). In the past Jag has been so fit that he's not had to worry about hydration or fuel - I don't think he has that luxury anymore...welcome to the world of mortals bro ;) If he was fuelled up then I don't think he would've struggled with the bike ride - but I was was nice to have company at the back for a change!!

Tuesday, thank god, was a rest day. Phew! We took a trip to the Timanfaya national park to see the volcano - it was a nice break. The terrain is awesome - all I saw was endless running possibilities (I think I'm obsessed).

It was pretty cold up at the park but standing next to the thermal vents soon fixed that.

Later on, on Tuesday, we decided to trek up the local peak next to Playa Blanca, called Montana Roja. It's only a tiny peak but the views were still amazing and it helped loosen the leg muscles. Even dad made it to the top.

As to be expected from Lanzarote, it was pretty windy at the top.

Wednesday's run (DPT) was fast. Probably our fastest 12km to date. We both felt strong. We ran towards Papagayo beach (as the route to the lighthouse is a bit boring). It was great, especially since it was probably the first time that I actually got my heart rate up to DPT level consistently. Usually when Jo and I run together there has to be a compromise. If I run at DPT pace then Jo ends up having to go beyond DPT, so usually we settle for me running at a high BT2 pace and Jo does a DPT. For some reason during this run our heart rates were in sync with each other (which normally only happens in slow runs - after the first hour). It was a perfect run to end the week on.

On Thursday we returned to Britain. It was freezing. We were supposed to run on Friday but just could not motivate ourselves to face that freezing weather (especially since Jo didn't have Friday off - hence it would have meant an even colder 6am run).

So it was a great holiday, which doubled up as a brilliant training week.


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