Thursday, July 09, 2009


Post Marathon

Where were we?

Running - I finished my marathon. Was I happy with it? Not really. Did I set my expectations too high? Maybe. But it was necessary. The objective of the race was to attempt to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon, which requires a 3:10:00 time for my age group (that's really fast, btw). And that's the pace that I tried to keep but I just didn't have the legs for it. I did long runs during training but I guess it just wasn't enough.

The weather was perfect in the Gold Coast for the run and the course had virtually no hills. It was your own speed and endurance that would get you to the finish in time. The first half marathon went well and I hit most of my splits and crossed the halfway line at 1:36 (that's my second fastest half-marathon time) but then started to slow down significantly. Around the 30km mark my split times were way too slow and getting worse each km. There was no way I was going to make it. Around that time I was nauseous and my legs were dead as I continued with the slow drag across the finish line. Finish time was 3:38.

As always, it was a learning experience, though at the moment I don't know what capacity I will be running another marathon in. I'm sure I will run one in the future but the 'enjoyment' may be the goal rather than the time. For a few years now I've felt that the half-marathon is my distance and maybe I should accept that that is the case.

Training will slow down in terms of running and change fundamentally for at least a month. This month I'm concentrating on mountain biking, weights, and yoga and I'm actually going to get into the pool with thoughts of starting triathlons in November/December.

This was my fourth marathon: Toronto, Mississauga, Great Ocean Road, Gold Coast.

Bread - My new favorite hobby is baking bread. I've baked bread before but that was about 8 years ago and I never got it right. I've baked 3 batches in the past 3 weeks and I still haven't gotten it right but I'm getting there. I'm not doing the electronic bread maker or even mixing the ingredients in a mixer. Everything is done by hand so that I can appreciate the process rather than the outcome. I love the simplicity and complexity of bread and, despite its ubiquitousness, it can be difficult to make.

I'm learning through "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart. It's a very good book because instead of saying, "mix this with this and cook for this long," he explains the significance and chemistry of each step. He stresses that everything is a guideline and as a bread baker you create the formulas that suit the flavors that you want. He teaches to bake artesan bread, which looks nice as well as tasting good and having innovating ideas.

So far I've made pain a l' ancienne, which is a simple flour, water, salt, yeast recipe with no pre-ferment (a second doughy type mixture added to the main dough) three times. I've learned something new on each one and I'm getting better (though they have all been edible). From shaping, to mixing, to kneading, it all seems to be coming together. The latest batch (3 baguette shaped loaves) came out around 5 last night and though it wasn't as light as I'd like and it was a bit doughy, it was still my best attempt with better shaping and larger loaves.

Today I'm going into the city so I should get moving. Either going to the Day in Pompeii exhibit at the Melbourne Museum or the Salvador Dali exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria. Will let you know how it goes.

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