Monday, 4 January 2010

Going the distance

I have been generally confined to the indoors for the past 3 days. Not only has the weather been somewhat grey, wet and miserable, but we have also just hit my business' year end so 'work' has been at the top of the agenda. But this afternoon, as the low cloud lifted and the odd, rogue patch of blue sky appeared, I headed out. At best, I intended to have a run up to the Col de Port via the chemin des Canadelles, back down the forest track to Liers and then home along the route that I took on the 27 December. At worst and if my body and energy failed me, I could take a short cut which would have me home within the hour.

Fortunately, I made it up to Caougnous feeling good and committed myself to doing the full circuit. Much of the circuit was a joy to run but on the smaller paths, it was wet and slippery underfoot. Despite the hunters having been out yesterday, Taff and I surprised a couple of herds of big red deer on our way round - they really are a beautiful sight in their natural habitat!

Now, I may be moaning to friends and family back in the UK about the lack of snow here and demonstrating a certain degree of jealousy over all of the skiing, ice climbing and winter mountaineering that is getting done over there at the moment, but the plus side is that whilst the snows hold off I am able to keep on doing these longer distance runs without having to travel down onto the flatlands ... so I really shouldn't complain! This is the view up to 1500m from the forest track that comes down from the Col de Port - it's pretty bare.The running on the forest track was, as always, great fun
At Liers, the 15km mark, I allowed myself and the pooch a brief refuelling stop. I do like Liers and the Gite d'Etape adjoining the old church in particular. It's in a spectacular setting, a really evocative place full of history, with the old row of bells and views up to the Pic de la Journalade in the distanceI had started to experience some discomfort in my right leg on the run back down the forest track, from my calf up to the buttock, but after a brief stretch we set off down the paths that I had followed on my previous outing to Liers. By the time I reached the precarious woodland path that marked the final section of the run home, I was tired. As I arrived back at Pissou, my Garmin indicated 20kms in 2 hrs 33 mins which included around 550m of ascent. I was pleased I had made the effort for the bigger push. By the time the Trail des Citadeles comes around in early April, I would like a distance of 20kms with 1000m of ascent to feel like a walk in the park - I may be expecting a bit much!

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