I should first apologize for not having posted for a while. Life has recently been very hectic, as I have tried to fit all of my training into a busy work schedule, including a week-long trip to the north of Greece (on which more in a next post). I often thought of putting up a short post, but somehow the time in my days never allowed for one. That said, now that I’m back from my travels, I should be more regular with posts in the coming weeks.
A week ago last Sunday, before I left for Greece, KT, NP and I, along with two Heidelberg friends RW and SW (of whom the former is an academic and mother, the latter an academic and four-year-old girl) made an afternoon trip to Schwetzingen, in order to visit the beautiful and extensive castle gardens. Reminiscent (for me at least) of the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, the Schwetzingen gardens turned out to be a real treat. Buoyed by the warm and pleasant weather, we wandered in a very relaxed way past fountains, terrifying (to NP) ducks, peacocks (oddly, having cried at the sight of an approaching duck, NP bravely stood her ground and smiled at a peacock with its plumage spread), across bridges, and through caves.
It was a wonderland for children and adults alike – I still, I must admit, find something magical in the shadows of topiary and the damp summer air of a cave. Of course, walking through gardens can be tiring, so we occasionally took breaks on benches. During one such break, as in the above photograph, NP sat me down, the wise sage she has become at 15 months, and filled me in on some of her thoughts about life. I listened attentively, and, having taken to heart her musings, agreed to buy her an ice-cream: which, I learned, stands second in her list of steps on the path to happiness and fulfillment in life.
In fact, I didn’t really need much convincing to buy an ice-cream, as my morning activity had turned me into an eating machine for the rest of the day. I had set out earlier in the day (quite early in fact), to do a 130km cycle, the longest ride I’ve ever done and another step in my preparation for the Roth Ironman race coming up in July (in which I’m doing the 180km cycle portion as part of a relay team). I still have another Olympic distance triathlon at the end of June, but I’m doing a bit of mixed training on the bike to accommodate both distances. My route on this particular ride took me through some small hills toward Bad Wimpfen, at which point I crossed over the Neckar and headed back home up the other side of the river (about 75km on the return). Here’s a map of my route:
For the first half of the ride I settled into a relaxed pace in lower heart-rate zones, as per the plan, and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The route was for the most part easy to follow, and I only once took a wrong turn, which was quickly righted. After I made the turn at Bad Wimpfen, I then picked up the pace for 70km on the way home – I didn’t take my heart-rate too high, so as to remain aerobic, but kept it just under threshold to maintain a pace below 2min./km. Overall, it was a really good ride, and my legs handled the distance well. In the last hour, I had a bit of discomfort from the seat, but nothing unexpected or particularly grievous. The ride took me 4.5 hours, and I must admit that I was surprised that my body took this longer ride as well as it did – the steady increases in training, it seems, have paid off, and I felt at the end that I could have kept going. I ate well along the way, although I could have been more careful with hydration (two water bottles did not suffice for a 4.5-hour ride given the sun and elevated temperature).
After a stretch and some lunch, it was off to the park for a relaxed stroll, which felt very relaxed indeed. Due to my trip to Greece, after this long ride I was off the bike for over a week, until this morning, when I went out for a quick 50km ride at lower heart-rate zones: two months ago I wouldn’t have called a 50km ride quick, but with the memory of the longer ride still in my muscles, it flew by today. I had been afraid that the time off the bike would make me feel sluggish, but I actually felt great today on the bike. Let’s hope that continues as my training picks up pace again in the next couple of weeks.
More on Greece in a post tomorrow……