3 weeks later

Recovering from the London Marathon

A lot can happen in three weeks! My plan post-London was to rest up for a few days, consuming lots of protein, vegetables and a modicum of alcohol to sooth mind and body, before easing back into cycling, swimming and finally running. The first two days were spent hobbling around with pretty sore quads: struggling to disembark the 38 bus or climb the stairs at Highbury & Islington tube station; opting for the office lift when my desk is only two flights up; perfecting the embarassed sideways glances when knee inexplicably buckles mid-stride in a busy thoroughfare. I once read a book by Ultra-Marathoner Dean Karnazes advocating running as soon as possible – ideally the next day – after a major event; I’m sure his wisdom is sound, but I prefer cross-training at best coupled with proper relaxation over beers with recently neglected friends!

The next key phase of my build up to Ironman 2010 is a series of sportives at the beginning of June, so on the Friday I hit my Hills of North London route – feeling surprisingly strong. The focus for weeks one and two was to flush out the marathon toxins, rebuild my damaged muscles and keep fitness loss to a minimum during recovery.

I then enjoyed – or rather, endured – an unusual type of cross-training over the bank holiday weekend: moving house! I wasn’t moving far: the other side of a cross-roads. Lugging boxes, sofas, matresses, wardrobes, bikes – you name it – across two roads and (Vietnamese style) through streaming traffic into my newly purchased flat was both physically and mentally exhausting. Here I’ll add that this – not laziness, drunkeness or diminished enthusiasm for this blog – is the reason for a 3-week hiatus in posts. Broadband takes so long to set up!

A few more 2-hour rides have followed – one with my uni friend and close mate Fordy, the latest member of the triathlon fraternity – mostly around London, mixing hills with some flat out work around Regents Park. I’ve also encountered several riders during these rides who are embarking on triathlon for the first time this year; it’s great to feel part of a growing sport. I’ve run for the first time: a 45 minute tempo run at 7.15s, my heart rate slightly higher than pre-London – although that’s to be expected, as my steady runs are normally at a lower pace within a training zone after 2-3 weeks off running – and I’ve been in the pool for an easy 30-minutes. Week 3 marks the return to daily training, and then tri-specific work through to the London Triathlon August 2nd.

Meanwhile in other news…

Al endured a very tough Fred Whitton ride, whilst Fordy competed in the Stratford triathlon and Jonny battled through a wet and windy King of the Downs Sportive; Protesters sabotaged the Etape Caledonia with carpet tacks, and Tom Boonen potentially sabotaged his career with recreational drugs.

Yep, a lot can happen in three weeks!

Boonen: legendary status?

Paris-Roubaix 2009

King of the cobbles

The Hell of the North rarely disappoints, but even by Paris-Roubaix standards today’s race was edge-of-the-seat, nail-biting stuff. The 2009 race had everything: pile ups in the Arenberg Forest; hard grafting yet ultimately stifled breakaways; Flecha, Hoste and Hushovd hitting the deck like dominos – doing their best to imitate last weekend’s Grand National – whilst in the leading group in the closing stages; and Boonen himself dirtying his kit early on and then suffering a flat just 25k from the velodrome.

Tom’s performance, though, was something to be admired. Despite his early tumble he looked in control throughout. Not only was he largely responsible for catching the 10-man break after Arenberg and decimating the bunch in the process, but when the decisive group took the race by the scruff of the neck, Boonen was the driving force in stretching the lead. Unperturbed and clear of danger as Cancellara faded, Flecha and co crashed to the cobbles, he never seemed at risk of being caught by Pozzato. Back-to-back victories and 3 in total, which places him level with Merckx, Moser, Museeuw et al and one off the joint all time record of De Vlaeminck. The overuse of the word ‘legendary’ infuriates me intensely; but, only 29 years old and plenty more years in his legs yet, could Boonen be a genuine legend in the making?

Watch the highlights on Eurosport.

I was fortunate enough to see Big Tom up close on the final stage of the Tour of Britain 2006, sporting his reigning world champ rainbow jersey as well. What struck me was – as the riders did laps of The Mall, setting themselves up for the sprint finish – how Boonen ran the show, barking orders at the entire peleton, ensuring the race unfolded with he in prime position to strike for home. Guess who won that day? That’s right, Boonen powered to victory ahead of Roger Hammond and one Mark Cavendish.

Boonen on London's Primrose Hill, Tour of Britain 2006 (Canon 300D, 28-105mm Canon EW-63II lens, 1/160 sec. at f/5.6)

Boonen on London's Primrose Hill, Tour of Britain 2006 (Canon 300D, 28-105mm Canon EW-63II lens, 1/160 sec. at f/5.6)