Zurich Marathon, etc.

I arrived in Zurich around 1pm, courtesy of free return travel from anywhere in Switzerland, which was included in the marathon entry fee.  (Nice touch. 🙂  Pity my birthday wasn’t 4 days earlier otherwise I’d have had free entry too!)  Although I’d been to Zurich briefly before, just passing through, the first thing that struck me was how big the station was – with at least 36 platforms, spread over 3 different levels.  Goodness knows where all those trains must be going to and from, but then the city does lie in the middle of Western Europe.  The second thing was the number of people, all going about their Saturday shopping – and there are lots of shops in Zurich.

I was very impressed with the tram system, which was easy to understand, with route numbers colour coded, and the trams seeemed very frequent.  One of these took me to the Saalsporthalle to register.  No queues, meant that I was in and out in a jiffy and that gave me most the afternoon to wander back via the marathon starting area and along the lake.

As you can see, the weather was glorious and 20 degree C (70 F) plus temperatures did not bode well for the following day…  (I’ve never been able to run in the heat).

My plan (hope), to give me a sub-4 hour finishing time, was to run each kilometre in 5m 30s, thereby ‘banking’ 10 secs per k, for when I slowed later in the race.  If I could get to 27k at that pace, I could then run the rest at 6 min per k and all would be well.

I set off at around 5m 20s for the first k, but missed the 2 and 3 k marker posts, so I was a little bit surprised to go through 4k in 20m 40s, which is 5m 10s per k and therefore waaaay too fast.  I felt ok, but I knew I had to ease back.  I thought I had, but I was still averaging 5m 20s up to the 10k mark.   I was feeling really good up to the 14k (1/3rd of marathon) marker post and noted that I was under 1h 15m…  I had thoughts, more delusions really, that if I could get properly fit, then maybe I could do 3h 45m…

By now, the route had done a 10k circuit of the city (in the shade) and it was now heading south, along the lakeside, (in the blazing sunshine) to the 25k turning point.

I’ll spare you the details but, for one reason or another, I’d started in a coral in front of the 3h 45m pacers, so I was expecting them to come past me at any time.  And sure enough they did, with their hoard of followers just before a feeding station, which caused a great amount of chaos.  By this time, around 16k, I’d noted that the number of people passing me was increasing.  To begin with this didn’t worry me, as there was also a “Team run” relay race going on in parallel, but as the trend continued, it became a bit of a concern.  I noted that I went through half way (21.1k) in around 1h 53m, so I was still on schedule, but by now my pace had really slowed – to around 6m per km (which wasn’t in the script).

Reaching the 25k marker became a goal in itself and when the 4h pacers went by me at around 26k, the wheels really came off…  My strategy turned to one of survival, with each km marker post or feed station, becoming a goal in itself.   I must have stopped and walked (other than at the feed stations) about 4 times on the way back, purely to re-coup and re-gather my senses.  I had no injuries as such – ok, my hip wasn’t perfect, but I just couldn’t get my legs going…  Seemingly endless bottles of water were either drunk or thrown over me, but there was just no way to cool down.

Eventually the city centre came back into sight and I knew that there was only about 6k to go.  The tall buildings provided some welcome shade and I finished quite well – running the last 3k without stopping at all.  My motivation was to make sure it wasn’t my worst ever marathon (at 4h 23m) and at least I achieved that aim, finishing in 4h 11m 30s (officially).  For some reason, my watch said 4h 13m, but I’ll take the official time. 🙂

Before the race, I’d been in touch with a blogging buddy, Mrs Twinkle who, like me, lives in Switzerland, though in the northern part, near Zurich.  As a fellow runner, who’d run the race a few years ago, she said she’d come along and support.  So I have to thank her not only for taking my picture, but also for making and giving me the fantastic sign (see below).  We met up for a drink afterwards, to swap life and blogging stories!

As a final postscript to my “Tales of the Scales”:  My weight did go up slightly last week to 73.6kg, but this morning it was down to 72.3kg, which is a loss of 5.4 kg from where I was several weeks ago.  So my ‘diet’ is now officially over 🙂 and it’s time to celebrate. 🍺🍺🍺


Tales of the Scales (week 13)

You may (or may not) have noticed that my Scale Tales have been getting later in the week.  The first time this happened, I was making room for my 3 Peaks post, but this week, I did a little experiment…

Despite eating and drinking the same each day, I’ve found that my weight hardly goes down after a long walk.  But, if I go for a long run, it falls markedly (almost in proportion to the distance run).  This happened last week and again this week, when my weight fell to 73.2 kg (= 161 lb or 11st 7lb).

Weight Week 13

I’ve recreated my graph and, since it looks unlikely now that I’ll achieve my ‘ideal’ target, I’ve added my minimum target, of losing 0.1kg per day, as expressed in my initial post on this topic.  Now, although amber colours are not strictly allowed in my (ex-)corporate world, Jamesie, at 50in50marathonquest, uses them in his.  So I’ve coloured anything in between the two targets in amber and it’s now a very colourful chart – though it only has one green bar. 😦

Weight graph, Week 13

As many of you will know, you can prove almost anything with numbers, so here is another chart showing the amount lost per week.  It has 3 green bars and one amber, so it looks much better from my point of view. 🙂

Weight lost by week, week 13

Clearly visits to the UK do nothing for my weight (I wonder why…? 🍺🍺🍺) but overall, I’m pleased with my progress and it has certainly helped me with my running… (which, after all, was the main reason for losing the weight)…

As for my training, last week was a very mixed bag…  Yes, I did manage to ‘run’ 27k or 17 miles, which is good, but it was at a very slow and laboured pace.  I struggled to go through 21.1k/13.1 miles at my marathon pace and had to stop twice to rest and refuel before I finished.  Equally my 7k / 4mile ‘recovery run’ at the weekend was equally difficult and I have to put this down to my ribs not being fully healed.  Breathing, without some sort of pain or discomfort, has certainly been an issue for the past 3 weeks.  I’ve been feeling pretty down about this and have been considering changing my 4 hour target to a true ‘get round at all costs’ schedule.

That is until yesterday, when I went for a 10 miler along my usual route along the Rhone river.  I’d hoped, even expected, to do it in 88 minutes, which would represent 5m 30s per km, or 8.8 mins per mile.  However I reached the half way in a little under 42.5 minutes and kept that pace going to the finish.  I incorrectly stopped at 16.2 km, when it should have been 16.1 km, so my time for the 10 miles would have been around 84m 30s.  This represents 5m 15s per km, or 8m 30s per mile.  (4 hour marathon pace is 5m 40s per km or just under 9m 10s per mile).  So I’m now a lot happier with my pace (and breathing) and therefore slightly more confident going into the race – which is now only 10 days away.

10 miler, 29th March 2017

Tales of the Scales (week 12)

Well, after a disappointing week last week, my weight has plummeted to 74.4 kg.

Weight Week 12.PNG

This represents a drop of 2.2kg from the 76.6 last week and I’d like to show this graphically, but while I was updating my spreadsheet, Excel decided it was “Not Responding”.  So when asked if I wanted to restart I said Yes and then, to my horror, the file had completely disappeared.  Poouff! Gone! Disparu!  Not even the original could be found with a search of the whole laptop.  To say I was a bit miffed would be an understatement.
(Tip: If you have a crucial spreadsheet, take a back-up or another copy regularly!)

I may yet re-produce the Weight graph, as I have the few figures for that, but it also means my running log for 2017 (which I had in the same spreadsheet) has also gone.  ☹
(I have a back-up from last November, but that’s little consolation).

However, I can tell you that in terms of training for my marathon (now in 2.5 weeks time), I managed a whole 8k last week.   Thankfully my ribs are improving, to the point where I did manage a 27.5k/17 mile ‘run’ yesterday, but more of that next week.  As at the end of Week 11, I can remember that my total distance for 2017 was 116k or 72 miles).


Tales of the Scales (Week 11)

Dieting is a funny old business.  This past week, I’ve not done anything exceptional in terms of eating (too much) and, if you read my post yesterday, you will know I walked 24 miles on Saturday.  (My brother’s gizmo, counted over 59,000 steps). BUT, my weight has gone up!

Weight Week 11

OK, I accept that I had another cooked breakfast and a few beers following our walk, but nothing much more than the week before, when my weight went down – albeit only slightly.  So I’m a little confused.  But, as I’m now back home in good old Switzerland (and not tempted by bacon and real ale), it’s time to really concentrate on my intake.

Weight graph, Week 11

As you will see my graph is very red, so I’ve already cut out beer and wine for the past 2 evenings and plan to continue with that this week at least.  My sugar intake (e.g. in tea) is being reduced ever so slightly, maybe even until I’m weaned off it.  Cakes and biscuits are definitely off the menu.  And I plan to do some exercise every day if I can, even if it’s only walking to the shops and back.

As for my training last week, thankfully, it’s a much better story.  It’s fair to say that I’ve been inspired by all the running blogs that I follow (and all that talk of tempo runs and interval sessions, etc.)   I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’m now one-paced, but I figured that there’s no real reason why I can’t do some intervals, or whatever.

So, knowing that I would be walking at the weekend, I decided that for my main (and one and only) run, I would drop back to the 13.1 mile distance of Week 9.   I decided to ‘make an effort’ for the first 11k, to see if I could beat my previous time and I did, by 1 minute.  (I think that might be what you youngsters call a tempo run).  My left calf was a bit tight on the way, but I still decided to do some 500m ‘sprints’ on the way back.  (Is this an interval session or just a fartlek or both? Whatever…)

I had 10k to cover, so I did 5 x 500m easy followed by 500m at a ‘fast’ pace, then a 5k ‘warm down’ run to the finish.   Remember this was the first time I’ve tried ‘sprinting’ in years… So I took the first one easy and I timed it at 2m 25s.  For the 2nd one, I forgot to start the watch, but it would have been about the same time.  The next three were done in 2m 20s, 2m 16s and 2m 14s respectively.  Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I began the last 5k at my normal (marathon type) pace and, with 3k to go, I noticed that I was on for a good time, so I made an effort.  (‘Twas ever thus, I’m afraid, when confronted with the possibility of a good time).  I finished the 13.1 in 1h 54m 56s, which was about 4.5 minutes faster than 2 weeks before.  Not bad I thought for 2, or was it 3, back-to-back training sessions.

On the way home, and to put this all into context, I worked out that these ‘sprints’ were at 4.5m per k (or 7m 15s per mile), or 22m 30s for a 5k, (which is slower than my mate Pete has been running his 5k Park Runs recently – so I’m very impressed with his ‘comeback’ performances) or a 3h 10 min marathon (which is slower than I used to run them 16 years ago).  So they weren’t so fast after all!  😦

Run and Walk graph, end Week 10


Tales of the Scales (Week 9)

So, today was ‘weigh in’ day and I have to say that I wasn’t hopeful.  I’d been checking my progress almost every day and the signs weren’t good.  Though this did make me more determined to stick to the plan and cut out any extra goodies.  Beer consumption plummeted to just the two cans all week (and these were after my long run last Tuesday), though wine consumption did increase slightly.

My target for this week was to get down to 75.7kg (or just under 167 lbs) and the scales hovered between 75.8 and 75.9 before settling on the lower figure.


So I didn’t quite make it and my graph is red. 😦


So my action for this week is to do a little more exercise in between my runs and hopefully that will make the difference.

As for training, I managed two runs last week:
– one of 21.1k (or 13.1 miles).  I started with the intention of running out along the Rhone riverside for 1 hour, then turning back for the 2nd hour.  On the way I got to thinking that, if I’m to run a maraton in sub-4 hours, then I should be able to do a Half in 2 hours.  So I was pleased to see that in the first hour I’d done 11k.  But, on my return, I struggled over the last 5k and finished the Half in 1h 59m 20s.  Although this might look quite good, there was absolutely no way that I could have done it all over again!!
– my second run was a gentle 8k up to Les Haudères and back to Evolène, which I have to say had a very positive effect on my legs for today’s 25k run… (which I’ll have to tell you about next week).

I also did a walk up to Les Haudères and back and I think this must be the first time in many a year that I’ve run more than my plan.  🙂


Tales of the Scales (Week 8)

When I was in the Corporate world, which was almost 2 years ago now, we used to hold Daily and Weekly Operational Review meetings (or DORs and WORs for short).   The idea was to spend no more than 15 minutes each day or 1 hour each week to review how things were progressing versus our team objectives – via Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs for short).  I guess many of you will already be familiar with this process and I’d like to follow this concept through in my Weekly Review of my weight loss programme, posted last week.  To save you looking it up, the aim was/is to lose 1kg, or just over 2lbs, per week leading up to my Zurich marathon on April 9th (i.e. Week 14) and reduce my 77.7 kg (171 lb) slightly paunchy frame of last week to a more lightweight 70.7 kg (156 lb).

Now, what most of you will not be so familiar with is the style of reporting – whereby each KPI is reported in some form of visual or graphical form and the latest position is either green or red.  (This makes it very easy to see the latest position at a glance).  There are no ‘almost made the target’ or amber traffic lights in this system.  You either made the target or you didn’t.  And, if you didn’t, someone in the team (in this case me) has to take an action to do something about it.  In extremis, if the latest position stays red for any length of time, then someone would volunteer, or be volunteered, to carry out a Go, See, Think, Do (GSTD) exercise to get to the root cause of the issue.  More on that topic maybe if anyone is really interested.

Getting back to the plan… I vowed to cut out that extra piece of toast in the morning, cakes and biscuits with coffee and tea throughout the day and one less beer every night.  This is Plan A and I have a Plan B, or even C, if I don’t quite get there.  Hopefully we’ll not need to use Plan D, which involves the dreaded ‘S’ word – Salads!

So how did it go ?  Well, I did only have one slice of toast all week and I resisted those delicious cupcakes upon return from my run last Tuesday.  BUT, the freshly baked scones were too good to  miss, so one of them went down very nicely as part of my ‘recovery’.  And over the next 2 days, those 2 cupcakes were far too good to throw away and so they disappeared too.  Then on Friday we were invited to our neighbours for coffee and it would have been rude to refuse a slice of the most delicious apple tart.  On Saturday we were invited out for dinner, so you can imagine… though I did skip on the dessert.  My beer consumption has gone down, though wine consumption has increased.

So how did I do ?  Drum roll please….

The scales  do not lie…


This represents a loss of 1.2 kg.  So, my graph is green and no further action required on my part (other than not to be so weak when it comes to those cakes!)


Since were also talking marathon training here, I thought I’d add another important measure, which is the amount of exercise I’ve been doing.  After all weight loss is not only about the input, but also the output as well.  So below is the number of kilometres that I’ve run each week this year.  Since that’s not very much, and I have been walking quite a bit, I’ve decided to show both together, versus my ideal running plan (i.e. what I would like to do if my ageing legs were up to the task).   Note that the weeks in this chart run from Monday to Sunday.


Less weight = run faster…

It’s a simple formula, right?  The less weight you carry the faster you should run (or the easier it should be to run further).  Well, at least that’s my logic.

For some time now I’ve realised my weight has been steadily increasing.  We all know the signs – abs (if I ever had any) disappearing and turning into a paunch, trousers too tight, etc. etc.  I know why of course.   For the past few months I’ve been over-indulging and not getting enough exercise.  Two runs this year (of about 9k / 5 miles each) do not constitute a fitness regime – especially with a marathon to run on April 9th…

One of the problems was that I had no idea how much weight I’d put on, as we have no bathroom scales.  That is, until last weekend when I bought some.  So this morning was the day of reckoning – and I weighed 77.7 kg or 171 lbs or 12st 3lbs.  This may not seem much to some, but my standard weight (when I was younger and more active and had scales available to measure) was 70 kg or 154 lbs or 11 stones.  So that’s an increase of about 10%, which is quite a lot to cart around a marathon.

So, in the hope that my logic is right, here’s the plan:  (I’m sharing this with you all to make sure I stick to it… )

I’m aiming to lose at least 0.1 kg per day between now and the 4th April*.  That’s about 5kg or 11 lbs in total.  However, ideally (and we all like stretch targets don’t we?) I’d like to lose 1kg or a little over 2 lbs per week, making 7kgs or 15.5 lbs in total.

How am I going to achieve this target?  Firstly, by cutting out that slice of toast for breakfast and biscuit(s) with my coffee in the morning, then no cake with afternoon tea and finally by reducing my evening beer/wine intake.  Plus, of course, I plan to get out there and do some more running!   Tomorrow, I’ll be in my old stomping ground of Vevey (where there’s no snow on the ground) and I’ll be doing a long(ish) run along the beautiful shores of Lac Léman (aka Lake Geneva to some).

*I will be updating this blog every Tuesday, from now until the 4th April, to let you know how it’s going.  Wish me luck!

As you may know, I don’t like to post anything without a picture, so here is a view of (the eastern end of) Lac Léman, taken from our old apartment in Mont Pèlerin.  Vevey and the Nestlé HQ are in the middle at the bottom, with Montreux towards the end of the lake on the left.