Monday, November 3, 2008

On a beach, out of reach, somewhere very far away

I mightn't be impressing anyone over here with my running skills, but the word will be spreading about my eating ability soon enough. Huge men are leaving restaurants with their left overs in boxes while I'm wiping my plate clean with bread. How this tall, skinny Irish man is demolishing plate after plate of food will become stuff of legends! I've got to hand it to them, Americans certainly know a big portion. They may not be able to eat all they're served in one sitting, but they can serve it. Granted there's no way I could eat this much week in week out but for a few weeks I'm loving it. Waiters are commenting taking my empty plate away from the table, my sister is laughing when she sees the food arriving and photos are being taken of these ridiculous portions.

For the past week now I've been chilling out in LA. My sister and her husband moved here a few months back so the opportunity to visit couldn't be passed up. The RacePix site annoyingly took up a lot of time over the first few days between hosting issues and loads of pictures coming my way but that couldn't be avoided. Besides that it's been a blast. Seeing all the places and buildings mentioned in various Michael Connelly books has just had me absolutely snap happy over here. Private beside Angels Flight, Private at Echo Park, Private at Bunker Hill... LA is definitely a place you feel like you know before ever having set foot here. Throw in some sunshine, cocktails, movies, a Lakers game amongst other things and you have a happy Private.

With the hectic schedule I've still managed to get some training in for good measure. The lifestyle of food and booze isn't destroying me just yet. I wasn't too sure how I was going to get by going training as there seems to be crossroads every 100 metres. There is a park a few miles from my sister's apartment but at a rough guess I'd say that works out at about 32 traffic lights between here and there! That ruled out the park for training early enough. Instead on day one I just ran around the block repeatedly. Not the most exciting, but it got the job done and there were no traffic lights or stops. My Garmin refused to work that day so I guessed the distance by the length of time it took. I estimated the block to be 1km and low and behold it turned out I was right. Day one was actually day three of the holiday but day one of training, jet lag prevented any running before that. Something I've failed to do time and time again in Ireland I've had to do here, that's train first thing in the morning. Due to the heat and not wanting to disrupt whatever was planned for the day early morning running is the only option. To be honset it hasn't been that bad. Maybe I'll give it another shot when I get back to Dublin.

Today I took on an un-fueled long run. I don't think I've ever attempted this so I was very wary that I'd have to call it quits early. I woke up at 7.30am, downed a bottle of water and headed out the door without so much as a slice of toast inside me. Normally before a long run I'm awake for a few hours before heading out and always after having something to eat. As I was hoping to do 13 miles there was no way I was going to do 20+ laps of the block. Instead I weaved up and down around 10 blocks off Hollywood Boulevard (Sorry, now I'm just dropping in names!). The plus side about all the weaving was that if I started to struggle I could just head straight home along Hollywood Boulevard (yeah I know, name dropping again) and I'd be no further than one mile away, whereas by weaving it'd have taken 5 miles to get there. The down side about the weaving was that every block seems to be on an incline. This meant that 50% of the run was going up but then again 50% was nice and easy going down. Cutting the long story of the long run short, I shocked myself. This was an un-driven, un-fueled (over 12 hours since a turkey sandwich was eaten), un-hydrated (once I left the apartment there was no water) 13 mile run up and down inclines and it wasn't that bad. Aye, it started off rough over the first few miles as my body woke up, but there after I was cruising. I had the Garmin on for a change (No matter how much I hate the thing, it's a God send when you go travelling... when it decides to work) and it surprised me when I saw my average pace for the session - 6:40 min/mile - not bad for un-driven.

I've two more weeks to go over here. A few days more in LA before I go out alone into America for a week. Then I head back here for the final couple of days to top up on the tan! The way things have been panning out so far I'm beginning to think this will be the first ever holiday that I come back from fitter than before I left. Then again if I have many more breakfasts that comprise of 3 pancakes, 3 eggs, fried potatoes and an 8oz ham steak I may not....
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