20:00 Sun.
25 Oct, 2020

Last stage in Portugal

12:00 am
12:00 am

We arrived to Pontes de Limas something past 8pm, again, we were luckily, the Alberuge there closes at 9. At first, we were really happy, at least we made it, but then we realized, we won’t be able to go out for dinner, since they will close the albergue in less than half an hour (literary they lock you in). So in the end, after a lot of persuasion, Jakob convinced me to run with him to the close by Liddle, that was still open, and just in the distance where we thought we could make it there and back in time. So after the whole day of walking, we conjured just enough strength for the 3 km run, and made it back in time with about 5 minutes to spare. I’m telling you, pasta never tasted so good than that day.

Ponte de lima. Not surprisingly, the town has a bridge.

The next day was supposed to be a hard leg of the journey, we were suppose to walk on a “hill”, so we played it safe and started early (well, early compared to previous and later days, at around 9). After navigating out of the city, we were soon faced with a picturesque, yet flooded path. It took us almost an hour to navigate through it. At first we were jumping over the rocks from edge to edge but then toward the end Aljoša and Jakob smartly took off their shoes and just walked through the water. I for some reason really wanted to find the “dry” path, so after about 15 minutes of trying I finally stepped ankles deep into the marsh, yeey, my socks and shoes were wet for the rest of the day.

After the initial ordeal with wet footwear  our spirits soon lifted as we started walking through beautiful landscape and slowly ascending the hill. The weather again was perfect and the hill was not steep (or high) at all. Somewhere in the middle, when we were resting an interesting old man, came to talk to us. He was very friendly, yet couldn’t speak a word in English nor Spanish (Jakob knows Spanish). Yet that didn’t bother him, he just kept talking. At one point we think he asked if I’m the son of Jakob, haha I guess that felt nice (for me at least), but we probably misinterpreted that part.

Wet socks? Not a problem, just dry them on the backpack.

Before noon we were already at the top of the hill, way ahead of the schedule. We took a short break, playing some cards and sunbathing on the warm winter sun. In the early afternoon we reached Albergue.

Since the day was quite easy, I decided to go for a quick run before dinner.

The following day was supposed to be an easy one, we were to make it either to Valenca (Portugal) or the neighboring city Tui (Spain). Since Spain is a bit more expensive than Portugal, and we were in no hurry we decided to stop at Valenca. Again we walked through picturesque forests and rural areas, the walk was especially easy, since it was mostly downhill. We reached the Albergue before 1pm, so we actually had to wait for it to be opened.

After we checked in Jakob and Aljoša decided to go explore the city a bit. Valenca is an old fort city, designed abit similarly as Palmanova (Italy), in a star shaped fortification, yet I believe it’s even more fortified as latter. I decided to go for a “quick” run on nearby hill, that towered above the city. While the run was quite intense, the hill was about 400m high, the view from the top was worth it. I could see as far as the sea, the sun was shinning and on top of the hill there were some horses running around (with no enclosure) munching on the grass.

Preparing for a run. Despite walking for several hours, it was extremely refreshing to go for a run a bit.

In the evening, all three of us took another walk through the old town, which was completely empty then (a bit scary) and then found a restaurant that served Pilgrim’s menu. We are actually not sure what we ate, it was some kind of fish (bacalao?) and potatoes, looked like they put the scraps of food that were left over from the day together and served it to us, but it was surprisingly good. I think this was one of the general idea of this kind of menus, kitchens just used some leftover ingredients and prepared some really low cost meals. With it, of course, we had some wine.

Wine in Portugal (as well Spain) needs another post all together, but I’ll try to squeeze it in here. It is so unbelievable cheap that it defies logic. You actually have a very decent choice of (local) wines in the supermarket that cost less than 2€ per bottle (yes, glass bottles with actual corque). I think I even saw one that was 0.80 € or something. I don’t understand, how this is, the glass, transport and water in it must cost more than a €. Anyway the prices of wine in the restaurants are not much higher. The cost was usually no more than 5€/bottle, or was even included in the meal price (which was 5-10€). I’m not some wine connoisseur, but the wine tasted quite ok, and even Aljoša and Jakob, who know much more about wine than I do, agreed that they are surprisingly good, not even for the price, but in general, they taste good.

22:14 Tue.
6 Oct, 2020

Path to marathon

12:00 am
12:00 am

When I was young, I competed a lot in orienteering. It’s basically a cross-country running, where you have to find your own path through forests, shrubs and other nasty stuff and do it as quickly as possible. Toward the end of the high school I slowly stopped competing, but did manage to get quite good at it. Last year, at one point I found out that Jakob did couple of orienteering competitions each year and somehow persuaded me to join him at Lipica Open cup, which is one of the biggest cups in Slovenia or rather Europe. For reasons beyond anyone I registered in the toughest division and not surprisingly finished last, although at least I finished, there were few people who got disqualified or DNF, out of about 120 people competing in my division. I actually felt quite proud to at least finish, the course was really hard, and I was competing against professional orienteers and Belgium special forces (for some reason).  Anyway it was fun getting lost in the forest again after so long.

Me and Jakob after finishing first day of Lipica open.

For a couple of years  I wanted to finish a Marathon. My first goal was to finish Mali kraški maraton (halfmaraton in Sežana/Lipica), which is organized toward the end of March. It actually went quite well, I finished it under 2h, which was my goal and didn’t feel completely dead after it.

Finishing my first half-marathon. I was quite happy with the time, the goal was under 2h.

So the next step was full marathon in end of October. I needed to step up my training quite a bit, although now that I think about it, didn’t approach it really well. What I did  was trying to make as many runs per week as I could, usually at the pace I felt comfortable. Now I know that was not the best approach, or at least not as efficient as it could be. Nevertheless, I did manage to finish my first full marathon at Ljuljana’s marathon in October.

My first full marathon done! Very happy with my time.

So how does it feel to run a marathon? Well, despite sleeping really poorly that night the first 20 km went by pretty well. At kilometre 25 I started to feel my legs a bit, but it was still manageable. I was running with the pace runner for finishing just under 4 hours, the problems was that the girl was running a bit faster, I actually couldn’t follow her until the end, but since I finished 3 minutes sooner, I can only imagine that she was a minute or so faster as well, which is not totally ok. Anyway, the really suffering came at around kilometre 30, everything started to hurt, I gained small blisters on my feet at kilometre 35, and every step afterwards was a battle within myself. The only reason I did not stop was because I would then have to run it again one more time. However, toward the end there were a lot of spectators cheering us up, so basically they carried me toward the end. After finishing for a couple of minutes all I could do was lie down and try not to puke, everything hurt, I was thirsty and tired, thank god my dad was there, so he could bring me stuff and help me recover. Strangely after about half an hour I was more or less recovered. I, on purpose came to the competition area with a bike, so I could stretch my legs a bit on the way home to prevent cramps and to recover a little faster.

So in summary, I managed to go from  barely running  3 km to running 42 km in about a year.  I’m not sure how many km I did toward the end per week, cos fitbit sucks, but I think I did about 40-50km / week in last four months Not that much. Before the race I had a week of carbon loading, with pasta without any sauces and during the race I ate 5 gels, 1 every 5 km starting at km 15.

After arriving home, instead of putting my legs up in the air and resting, some of my friends came over, and we had something that could only be described as a baking party. Out of 8 people, 3 of us ran that day. What is funny about it is that we were the last man or rather women standing that day, struggling with the baking late into the night. All in all it was a very interesting and fulfilling day, the party at the end was also super fun although I don’t think I will repeat it anytime soon.

So what were the results? Well ….

I was so frustrated with the cake tho, that we redid it next weekend and I must say, not running a marathon before really makes a difference.